Blackberry Smoke dropped You Hear Georgia in May of 2021. That album reminded the world that they’re one of the best Southern rock bands in the business right now. Tracks like “All Over the Road,” and “Old Scarecrow” were top-notch rockers. At the same time, there were a handful of great country cuts on the record. Among those was “Lonesome for a Livin’” which features Jamey Johnson.
When I reviewed You Hear Georgia, I listed “Lonesome for a Livin’” as a standout track. It’s the kind of country song that sounds both classic and timeless at the same time. Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr packed a life’s worth of pain into the lyrics. Then, he and Jamey Johnson brought every ounce of that heartache out in their vocal performances. Behind them, a steel guitar soars and weeps over a slow waltz. It’s really hard to beat.
Yesterday, Blackberry Smoke dropped the official video for “Lonesome for a Livin’” and it elevated an already killer song. The video features shots of George Jones through the years. The way they cut clips into the video illustrates how well the lyrics fit Jones’ story. There’s a good reason for that.
George Jones Inspired Blackberry Smoke’s “Lonesome for a Livin’”
According to the video’s description, Charlie Starr wrote the song about George Jones after working with him. Blackberry Smoke teamed up with Jamey Johnson and George Jones “a few years ago” to record a version of “Yesterday’s Wine.” After meeting Jones, Starr felt moved to write a song for him. So, he penned a “somewhat autobiographical” song for the country icon.
George Jones said he loved the song. However, he didn’t get around to cutting it before his death in 2013. As a result, the song sat on the shelf.
Years later, Blackberry Smoke was playing a show with Jamey Johnson. While backstage, Charlie Starr played “Lonesome for a Livin’” for Johnson. Immediately, they decided that they needed to cut the song as a tribute to the late Jones. Dave Cobb, who produced their latest release, loved the story behind the song. As a result, it made its way onto You Hear Georgia.
The last lines of the video’s description take away all doubts about the meaning behind the song. “We miss you, Possum. This one is for George!”
With that in mind, some of the lyrics of this song hit a little harder. “You could say I was lonesome for a livin’ / and heartache was my claim to fame,” fits Jones like a glove. Many of his most iconic songs were sad ones. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “The Grand Tour” are all-timers in the sad country songs category. They were definitely a big part of Possum’s claim to fame.