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I Am What I Am

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Album Review

I Am What I Am announced that George Jones had officially returned to form artistically and, in the process, it became his biggest hit album ever. It's easy to see why — the production is commercial without being slick, the songs are balanced between aching ballads and restrained honky tonk numbers, and Jones gives a nuanced, moving performance. "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "I'm Not Ready Yet," and "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" were the hits, but the remaining seven album tracks are exceptionally strong, without a weak track in the bunch. It's mature country, both in the laid-back approach and subject matter, but that doesn't mean it's dull — like the best country music, these are lived-in songs that are simple, direct, and emotionally powerful, even with the smooth production. I Am What I Am is the sound of George Jones at his peak and it's the highlight of his later years. Four bonus tracks — "Am I Losing Your Memory or Mine?," "The Ghost of Another Man," "It's All in My Mind," and "I'm a Fool for Loving Her" — give the 20th anniversary version of the album an added richness.


Born: 12 September 1931 in Beaumont, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

By most accounts, George Jones was the finest vocalist in the recorded history of country music. Initially, he was a hardcore honky tonker in the tradition of Hank Williams, but over the course of his career he developed an affecting, nuanced ballad style. In the course of his career, he never left the top of the country charts, even as he suffered innumerable personal and professional difficulties. Only Eddy Arnold had more Top Ten hits, and Jones always stayed closer to the roots of hardcore country....
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