George Jones Recorded “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” As A Middle Finger To The Label That Replaced Him On Dolly Parton’s Song “Rockin’ Years”

George Jones country music
George Jones

It was a bold statement from the legendary George Jones: I’m still here, and you’re not kicking me out.

At the time Possum released “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” from his 1992 album Walls Can Fall, the 61-year old Jones was on the back end of a career resurgence and was seeing his time on the radio fall dramatically as new artists like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Tracy Lawrence became the biggest names in country music.

It seemed to George like the music industry was trying to push him out. Send him off to retire and make way for a new generation of artists.

And when the record label decided to take his vocals off of a song to make way for one of those newer artists, George took it personally. And he wasn’t going to go quietly.

In her book Playin’ Possum: My Memories Of George Jones, his widow Nancy Jones recalls George being upset after his label decided to replace him with Ricky Van Shelton on a song that he had recorded with Dolly Parton called “Rockin’ Years.”

“George really liked the song and felt the recording had great potential to be a hit. Unfortunately, the record label executives didn’t see it that way.

In fact, not only did they deny George the opportunity, they took his vocal off Dolly’s album track and substituted it with that of newcomer, Ricky Van Shelton.

George took that as an insult, and although that may not have been the only reason for his departure, he felt that the record company had done him wrong and George soon parted ways with the Epic record label.”

And according to Nancy, when she told the story of George being removed from the song to songwriter Billy Yates, he had the idea to write another song for George, who by that point had signed a deal with a new label, MCA.

The result, penned by Yates along with Frank Dycus and Kerry Kurt Phillips, was the defiant, rockin’ (no pun intended) anthem that sent a message to the industry: “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.”

Jones was joined by several newcomers on the song, who had credited Jones with inspiration in their own career: Names like Vince Gill, Mark Chesnutt, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie, Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, T. Graham Brown, Patty Loveless and Clint Black.

It was a show of force, not only by Jones but by some of the biggest names in country music who were standing behind one of the genre’s legends.

But radio programmers were reluctant to play the song, and it ended up peaking at #34, much to George’s frustration.

In his 1995 memoir, Jones wrote about his thoughts on the country radio’s reaction to the song:

 “There has never been a time when country radio was so disrespectful to its elders.”

And although it wasn’t a major hit at country radio, it resonated not only with fans but also with others in country music: The song would go on to win the CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year, and provide Jones with another resurgence of sorts, with hits like “A Good Year For the Roses,” “Honky Tonk Song” and “Choices” all coming during George’s career with MCA in the ’90s.

Just proves that George was right: He wasn’t ready for the rockin’ chair just yet – and he didn’t need “Rockin’ Years” either.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock