It seems like every building in the city has a mural painted on it these days. There’s the “I Believe in Nashville” sign, and of course the famous angel wings, where bachelorettes wait in line for hours to get a picture for their Instagram.
And now, there’s a mural of one of the most legendary stories in country music.
Any fan of George Jones knows the lawnmower story. At the height of his career, Jones was known almost as much for his struggles with alcohol as he was for his music. The struggle was so bad that his wife at the time, Shirley, would hide his car keys so that he couldn’t drive to the liquor store to buy booze. Or so she thought. As Jones wrote in his autobiography:
“But she forgot about the lawn mower. I can vaguely remember my anger at not being able to find keys to anything that moved and looking longingly out a window at a light that shone over our property. There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat; a key glistening in the ignition.
I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”
Now that famous lawnmower ride has been turned into a mural. The artwork can be found, appropriately, on the side of Colonial Liquors – a store that Jones himself used to frequent before he gave up drinking for good in 1999.
While fans of Jones may want to stop and get their picture taken beside the mural, there’s one notable critic who’s not a fan of the display – According to Fox News Nashville, it’s George’s widow, Nancy Jones.
“Have you seen that thing?? It is plumb ugly! It doesn’t look anything like George. It is stupid, hideous, self-serving, NOT accurate and certainly not sanctioned by the estate or the museum. George was a great writer, a great singer and a proper mural should be about him and his music not a mischaracterization of him on a lawnmower!”
I can understand why his wife would be upset at a mural depicting George at what was obviously one of the low points in his life. But to say that the mural’s “not accurate?” I mean, George confirmed the story himself. He even made fun of himself with his own “Honky Tonk Song,” and made an appearance on a lawnmower in the video for Hank Williams Jr’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” Hell, there’s even a replica of the lawnmower right inside the entrance of the George Jones Museum in Nashville.
In the end, the lawnmower story is just an amusing footnote to the story of one of the greatest country music artists of all time. And now, it’s a mural on the side of a liquor store. So if you’re looking for some artwork to get your picture with the next time you’re in Nashville, check out the mural at Colonial Liquors.
It probably won’t be packed with bachelorettes waiting in line, and it’s got a hell of a lot better story than a pair of angel wings.