On This Day: George Jones Released ‘Cold Hard Truth’ Album in 1999

by Robert Davis
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Twenty-two years ago today, George Jones announced his return to “hardcore country” when he released his album ‘Cold Hard Truth’.

The album is widely considered to be the late singer’s return to the original country sound that defined his early work. Starcasm.net says the decision resulted in “an instant classic and a must-have for any Jones record collection.”

At its peak, the album hit Number 5 on the Country Album Charts, the first album in 13 years to do so. Although Jones’ hit single “Choices” only reached Number 30, the song still earned the singer a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

The Crash That Almost Took George Jones’ Life

‘Cold Hard Truth’ was Jones’ first album for Asylum Records after leaving MCA Nashville. Jones released it just three months after a car accident “put the fear of God” in him, as he said in his memoir.

Jones was driving down Highway 96 near Nashville when his car slammed into a concrete median. According to a report by Rolling Stone, Jones was treated at nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center for a ruptured liver, collapsed lung, and internal bleeding.

Authorities blamed the mishap on Jones’ distracted driving even though a small bottle of vodka was found in Jones’ vehicle. The country star said the accident “put the fear of God” in him. Afterward, Jones swore to get a grip on his drinking habits.

Patterson Hood went on to write a song dedicated to Jones’ near-death experience called “George Jones’ Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues”.

“Now I’m living and dying with the choices I’ve made”

Jones earned a Country Music Association award for the 10-track album. His song “Choices” was nominated for Song of the Year and later helped create one of the most memorable moments in CMA history.

The song had a more gripping resonance in light of Jones’ accident. The line “Now I’m living and dying with the choices I’ve made” seems to speak directly to the memory.

“Choices” is also at the center of a controversy involving Alan Jackson at the CMA’s. Jones had been invited to the show to perform “Choices,” but was told he needed to play a condensed version. In his tried-and-true fashion, Jones refused and skipped the event altogether.

Jackson got wind of the decision and decided to stage one of the most unforgettable protests in CMA history. That night, Jackson was scheduled to perform his hit “Pop and Top”. Instead, Jackson launched into Jones’ song “Choices”. When the band finished, Jackson simply walked off the stage and didn’t say a word.

Jones said that Jackson’s protest moved him and his wife, Nancy, “to tears.”

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