On This Day: George Jones Earns No. 1 Hit With ‘The Grand Tour’ in 1974

by Clayton Edwards

Country music fans and artists alike widely regard George Jones as one of the greatest country singers in history. He had a voice that allowed him to sing just about anything he wanted and make it sound like a classic. It didn’t matter if he was singing raucous songs like “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair,” or sad songs like, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Jones’ voice was golden. However, many fans would agree that he truly shined when he sang sad songs. Give “He Stopped Loving Her,” or “The Grand Tour,” a listen if you need proof of that.

“The Grand Tour,” went to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart 47 years ago today, just three months after its release. It was George Jones’ sixth chart-topper overall and fifth as a solo artist. The song was destined to be a big hit. It had an incredible team behind it. Norro Wilson, George Richey, and Carmol Taylor co-penned the song. Legendary producer Billy Sherrill produced the track. After adding Possum’s voice to the song, it couldn’t fail.

Back in 2011, the late great Norro Wilson sat down with Rory Bourke to talk about writing the George Jones classic. Wilson told Rourke that George Richey came up with the idea for the song. He added, “I assure you, that one really wrote itself.” He went on to say that once they had the title, the lyrics flowed naturally.

Before the song hit the top of the chart, Wilson knew that it was going to be big. He attended the Grand Ole Opry one night and everyone he saw asked him about the George Jones cut. “I left that place,” he said, “knowing we had a monster.” He was correct.

A Closer Look At The George Jones Classic

George Jones didn’t write, “The Grand Tour,” however, he didn’t have to pen it to feel it. The song is about a subject that Jones knew all too well – divorce. Possum went through the big D three times in his life. So, when he sang “The Grand Tour,” he didn’t have to dig too deep to find those old emotions.

Lyrically, “The Grand Tour,” is just that. George Jones takes us on a tour of “The lonely house that once was home sweet home.” Every nook and cranny in the households some memory of the love that used to live there. The real sadness in the song comes from remembering the small sweet moments.

This verse is a perfect example of what makes “The Grand Tour,” so heartbreaking.

Over there sits the chair / Where she’d bring the paper to me / Sit down on my knee and whisper / Oh, I love you.”

It may not make grown men weep like “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” but it still stands as a great example of how George Jones could spin pain into gold.