OFFSTAGE: Dierks Bentley on Truly Hearing George Jones

(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 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.”