Friday, April 26, 2013

Song of the Week: George Jones -- Revenooer Man. RIP

The news just hit that George Jones died today. He was 81 years old. Here is an article we posted on the man and his music back in January of 2010. 

George Jones always scared me. Back in the '70s he was a dead ringer for cult leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Dark glasses, overly sculpted hair, and an intoxicated swagger. Not cool. And his songs stank too (at least that was my opinion). Sometime when I was about 17, I ran across a Mercury Records release called George Jones: Rockin' The Country. For some unknown reason I picked it up and held it in my little hands and flipped it over a time or two. George Jones sure looked different here. He didn't have much hair, just a real geeky flat top. And he didn't have on those dark lens "mood maker transition" Foster Grant glasses that made him look like that creepy guy who hangs around the playground after school. For the low-low price of $3.00, I was able to carry it out of Barney's Records in Davis California and back to my not-so-swingin' pad.

It's a damn good record filled with upbeat rockabilly numbers and stellar production. It includes Jones' first (of many to come) #1 Country and Western hit, White Lightning (see video below). The standout on that record, however, is the fast paced Revenooer Man, our SOTW. I'm not sure of the history of the recording, but by the sound of it, I assume it was recorded in Bradley's Barn outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Moreover, I assume that my favorite Nashville session man, Grady Martin is on the baritone guitar here. Flip-side devotees may recall that we sang Martin's praises on his uncredited role on The Johnny Burnette Trio's mind blowing Train Kept-a Rollin' and on Johnny Horton's Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor.

On Revenooer Man, Jones and the session men, run through the tale of a G-man hot on the trail of moonshiners fleeing at a break neck speed. The tempo and the acoustic guitar intro are reminiscent of some of those early Everly Brothers songs, some of which were also recorded at Bradley's Barn. The baritone guitar harkens to early work of Johnny Horton. Jones' vocal style, like those of early Conway Twitty, clearly reveal his and the producers knowledge of the dominating presence of people like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis who were taking away the younger audiences from the country stars.

In all my years of hitting clubs, I have never, ever heard anyone cover this song. White Lightning? A million times. Revenooer Man? Not once. What's up with that? Sit back and enjoy this scratchy recording of George Jones performing Revenooer Man.

See you on the Flip-Side.


  1. Love that lead fill after he sings 'revenuer man'. Kinda puts the song over the top. Thanks.

    1. Hank Garland played lead guitar on " Revenuer Man" with George Jones.

    2. Hank Garland played lead guitar on " Revenuer Man" with George Jones.

  2. Alan Jackson covered that song on one of his albums..great song

  3. In 1980 Britain's greatest rock 'n' roll singer ever, Shakin' Stevens, recorded Revenooer Man and it was featured on his very successful This Ole House album. However, Stevens re-titled the song to Revenue Man.

  4. "Revenooer Man" was written by Johnny Paycheck [great name], and originally recorded by Gordon Terry in 1959.

    I believe the song is set in 1920s North Carolina Mountain, following prohibition of alcohol in 1915/6, which would last until 1933. Revenooer Men were law inforcement officers who went after moonshine bootleggers, destroying their illegal whisky distilleries. Because this wasn't a thing in Britain, there is no literal translation or use of the word Revenooer, so Shakin' Stevens 1980 recording of the song was titled "Revenue Man" (tax collector) in the UK, but "Revenooer Man" in the USA and Canada.