George's Gems

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""Once a Day" (Track 13, "Patsy Cline/George Jones Allegiance Extra" 1987) Play a selection of the song here

When an album's liner notes list some songs without a composer and titles are misspelled, you know you're dealing with a bargain-bin special. And this Patsy Cline/George Jones compilation from Allegiance Records is about as shoddy as you're likely to find. For instance, on the disc it says it was released in 1987, while on the liner it says 1984. It is also poorly mastered and fuzzy-sounding, as though made on a home recorder. But it does contain a few treasures, such as this track (as well as a beautiful rendition of the Harland Howard/Hank Cochran classic "You Comb Her Hair" that's far superior to the version on Razor & Tie's "George Jones: The United Artists Years").

Why George Jones? Matt Diebel explains here.

Past Gems:
'When Your House Is Not a Home
'Three's a Crowd'
'Mr. Fool'

I've never been able to understand why "Once a Day" didn't become a Jones standard. I don't know who wrote it — as noted, our friends at Allegiance have failed to identify the writers (and I can't locate it on the Internet or in any discography) — but it's a well-crafted song sung by Jones at the top of his game (I would estimate early '60s; again, no hint from the CD liner).

As usual, Jones is lamenting lost love. With irony hurtling down like hailstones, the Possum is at his most world-weary, an affect that works perfectly with this tune. Take, for example, the second verse and the refrain:

"I'm so glad that I'm not like a friend I knew one time.
He lost the one he loved and slowly lost his mind.
He sat around and cried his life away.
Lucky me, I'm only crying once a day.

"Once a day, all day long.
And once a night from dusk 'til dawn.
The only time I wish you weren't gone.
Is once a day, every day, all day long."

Jones just sounds so sad, it's painful. He's as sad-sounding as Hank Williams at his most abject. Of course, the difference is that Jones can sing, whereas Williams can only wail. Some words are clipped, some are stretched and played with, as only Jones can do. Some lines are almost whispered; others cried out — all beautifully set up by man who really understands what to do with lyrics. It's a pity that this is not a better recording, because the musicianship is also mighty tasty, with some pulsating pedal steel, a well-stroked fiddle and a finely fingered Fender. I would love to locate a better version.