It looks like George Jones got the last laugh on the Country Music Association last week by winning a Grammy for best male country vocal performance for his single Choices.
It was a bittersweet victory for the 68-year-old legend, who was not allowed to sing the full version of Choices in September on the Country Music Association's awards show. The song was nominated for single of the year.
The song is about the choices you make in the forks along life's roads.
Mr. Jones' choice was not to do the show if he had to sing an abbreviated version, especially in light of the fact that pop-rock artist Jewel and Merle Haggard were getting to sing a full version of their duet, That's The Way Love Goes.
The CMA treatment upset Mr. Jones' fans, who were glad to see him recover from a near-fatal car accident in March 1999.
Performer Alan Jackson was quoted as saying, "Had George Jones died, there would have been a 10-minute tribute to him (on the CMA show), but he lived, and they wouldn't give him three minutes."
So Mr. Jackson took it upon himself to do something about it in the form of a mild protest.
Without approval of the CMA or awards show producer Walter Miller, and without warning his record label, Mr. Jackson finished his own hit song, Pop a Top (Again) on the live show and tagged it with part of Mr. Jones' Choices.
The Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper, reported that Mr. Jones, watching the awards show at home on television, burst into tears. He later called the protest action of his friend and fan "the greatest honor ever bestowed on me."
As it turned out, Choices did not win the CMA's single of the year award. That went to Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks.
Considering all that, it is no wonder a lot of Mr. Jones' fans were smiling broadly Feb. 24 when it was announced that Mr. Jones had won a Grammy for Choices.
Among Mr. Jones' supporters in the awards-show dispute was another country legend, Eddy Arnold, the first CMA entertainer of the year, who had been forced the previous year to cut back his duet with LeAnn Rimes to 19 seconds.
"I told him I'd stand my ground," Mr. Arnold was quoted by The Tennessean. "I'd tell 'em (CMA-CBS folks) to stick it."
OTHER NOTABLE COUNTRY GRAMMYS:
In case you missed it, the Grammy Awards balloters decided that Fly by the Dixie Chicks was the best country album of 1999 and the best country song was Come on Over, co-authored by Shania Twain and her husband, Mutt Lange.
Miss Twain also won the best female country vocal performance Grammy for Man, I Feel Like a Woman, which is destined to be regarded as a country classic.
A couple of years ago, Ricky Skaggs took a major career step in returning to his bluegrass roots and recording all-bluegrass albums. The decision apparently was the right one, with a Grammy for best bluegrass album going to Mr. Skaggs and his band, Kentucky Thunder, for Ancient Tones.
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 29 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.