The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George
It’s inevitable that when a celebrity’s kid writes a book, people will read it for the inside scoop on the parents. Georgette Jones tries to give us a realistic picture of what it was like to grow up as the only daughter of two of country music’s biggest stars. Her parents had lives bigger than life, and they gave her a giant shadow to get out from under. Her mother was Tammy Wynette, one of three women given the floating title of “queen of country music” in the ’60s and ’70s. The other two were Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. All three sang the gritty truth about being a country woman, and that made them country stars.
"This book will be a must-read for old fans of Tammy and George and new fans of Georgette..."
Tammy, an uneducated beautician from the Deep South, grew up listening to the simpler and very compelling country music of the time --- songs by legends like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. Caught in an early bad marriage or two, the young mother pushed herself into a singing career and scored early with a huge hit: “Stand by Your Man.” Yo-yo-ing from home to Nashville and often having to take all three of her little girls to recording studios with her, Tammy met and married George Jones, one of her childhood heroes, a man on top of his game, absolutely idolized as a singer and well known as a hard drinker. Georgette was their only child, and the marriage lasted a scant six years (they fought, he drank, she left) --- just long enough to link the two great stars in the minds of their fans as star-crossed lovers, country-style. They continued to record together even after the divorce, underscoring this romantic view. THE THREE OF US both enflames and denies those fanciful views.
Georgette grew up in a chaotic world that ranged from a kind of glitzy poverty in which the family enjoyed many luxuries but in truth owned nothing, to being on top of the heap, starring as the offspring of the great Tammy. The mores embodied in the music were informed by the moral craziness of the artists, who sang of standing by their man when their real-life men, as in Tammy’s case, were drunkards or wife-beaters. Georgette was confused about the difference between love and need, and when she reached adulthood, she had her own struggles with dysfunctional relationships. The book takes a frank look at all that while maintaining a good sense of humor. When in college, the famous daughter told a Nashville bartender she didn’t want any alcohol because “I was staying out at Dad’s and I didn’t think I should show up with liquor on my breath.” The bartender cracked, “You’re George Jones’s kid and you don’t want him to smell alcohol on you?”
In the final pages of the book, we learn how she and George patched things up after Tammy’s sad demise, a victim of the painkillers she took for years for her many surgical problems. Georgette was a nurse with twin boys when she decided she could and should follow her own musical star. Her dad took her seriously, particularly impressed with her songwriting talents, and encouraged her, even going so far as to record a duet with her. The song “You and Me and Time” paints a poignant picture of two family members who are estranged but who find one another and live past the distance and separation: “I’m sorry it took so long, but better late than never, the love we thought we’d lost was not that hard to find, it only took the three of us, you and me and time.”
This book will be a must-read for old fans of Tammy and George and new fans of Georgette, who is not seeking center stage but pushing for quiet respect and recognition in her music career. After all she’s been through, we hope she succeeds.
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on August 12, 2011