(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and
out of the spotlight.)
There’s a big difference between listening and hearing, according to Dierks
Bentley. In an essay he wrote for CNN.com
about the late George Jones, that’s one of the lessons Bentley talks about learning once
Jones was on his radar for real.
“I had listened to George growing up with my dad, a big country fan. I had listened
to him in high school again, when I discovered Hank Williams Jr. and found out Hank
also loved George,” Bentley wrote. “But it wasn’t until I was in Nashville and hanging out with [bluegrass musician Terry
Eldredge] that I finally heard George Jones. I finally got it,” Bentley writes. “The tone and the ache of his voice clicked.
I heard how every word George sang was first filtered through a broken heart.”
Bentley says he and Jones eventually
became friends and that he cherished every moment in the legend’s presence. But, still, it is Jones’ music that Bentley cherishes
most of all. For anyone who doesn’t really know much more about Jones than “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Bentley suggests,
“Grab some whiskey and listen to ‘A Picture of Me (Without You),’ ‘The Cold Hard Truth,’ ‘A Good Year for the Roses’ or my
favorite, ‘The Door.’ Put your heart in George’s hands and trust that he will take care of it.”