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October 15, 2001
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By Jolene Downs

Jolene recently came up with some questions for George Jones on her own, and from visitors to our Forums. Here is what he had to say.

JoleneHOST: George, you've been one of my favorite artists from the time I was small, and I've enjoyed seeing your show many times. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer a few questions from your fans. We know you are very busy, and we appreciate your taking the time to do this.

You have put out some incredible albums over the years. Is there any one in particular that stands out in your memory as a favorite? Why?

George Jones: I loved "Wine Colored Roses" - I loved the songs, it was a really great album. I also love "The Cold Hard Truth," and right now my favorite album of mine is "The Rock."

JoleneHOST: Sometimes while listening to different artists, we will catch your distinctive voice

George Jones Photo © Ron Newcomer
Used with permission.
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on a song. Just recently I was surprised to hear you on the new Confederate Railroad album. How do you decide who to record with? Is it more of a label decision or a personal decision?

George Jones: It's usually a personal decision - either I have a friendship with the artist or I already admire their music. For instance, with Confederate Railroad, those guys are good friends and we toured a lot together a few years ago. They were also produced by a friend, Barry Beckett. Sometimes your label will ask you to help out with one of their new artists and, if I like the music, I'll try to help.

JoleneHOST: Who are some of your favorite artists?

George Jones: I like the traditional type artists the best. I love Alan Jackson's music, I love Randy Travis. Brad Paisley is a good one and he always tries to keep it country. I like Toby Keith also - he's come up with some pretty clever songs. I love a lot of Vince Gill's stuff - he has a beautiful voice and is just a wonderful person. I guess now a days, it comes down to the song as opposed to the artist. Many of the traditional artists no longer get the airplay sothat you know they have something out so it comes down to the song. Unfortunately, more and more of the songs seem to have a pop slant to them instead of a country sound.

JoleneHOST: If you could choose to do a project with anyone, who would you choose?

George Jones: I've been pretty lucky and, at my age, I've had the good fortune to record with a lot of people I really admire. At this point, I'm looking forward to doing a Gospel project which my old producer and good friend, Billy Sherrill, has agreed to come out of retirement to produce it. I'm really looking forward to that. We are also planning to use a lot of the gospel groups - like the Happy Goodman Family - for backgrounds. I love Vestal Goodman, she has an amazing voice and I'll be thrilled to sing with her. We are also talking about doing a duet project which will give me an opportunity to finally sing with certain people that I seemed to have missed like Emmylou Harris, maybe a real duet with Vince Gill instead of just backgrounds.

JoleneHOST: Have there been any songs that you passed on recording that you later wished you would have recorded? (from Shel)

George Jones: I passed on "All My Exes Live in Texas," which I really regret. I also passed on "Too Cold At Home," "Oh, Lonesome Me" and "Life Turned Her That Way." My excuse on those songs was because a jukebox was playing in the background and it distracted my attention. Truthfully, you end up passing on songs that do turn out to be hits but maybe they weren't really right for you so you can't second guess yourself. I've heard songs that are on several people's albums at the same time and one person's version might be a smash and the other person's version is just so-so. You never know how it will turn out.

JoleneHOST: I personally think your last album, The Cold Hard Truth, was one of your best. How long did you search for the right material before you could put it together?

George Jones: It didn't take that long but we did listen to a lot of songs. Probably more than 500. Evelyn Shriver and Susan Nadler signed me to Asylum and it was a fairly small label and we all listened for songs. Susan listened to the most and had lots of song meetings with the writers and publishers. Keith Stegall, my producer, also listened to a lot of songs. The project was a real labor of love and I think it came out that way. All of us would come together, bringing the songs that we each found and play them for each other. We would then vote on what we thought. I had the overriding vote in that I was the one that had to sing them. We came up with a lot of good songs for that project but, quite honestly, I think the songs we have on "The Rock" are every bit as good.

JoleneHOST: What do you do for relaxation when you aren't on the road? Trace Adkins said that George Jones is to country music what the Pope is to the church. Now I know you're THE greatest singer of them all, as Leon Payne once sang, but how do you consider yourself in country music? (from Vince Laus)

George Jones: I like to drive a lot. It might sound crazy but I like to drive around in my car, listen to CDs or the radio and just relax. I used to like to mow my property a lot but in the past year or so it seems the allergies get too crazy from the mowing and affect my singing. I like to watch television particularly football. I spend a lot of time with my family, the kids and grandkids. I also like to gamble a bit so we'll take a little trip to Tunica or someplace for a day or two.

In terms of where I see myself - all I can say is that the people have been very good to me and I've had a great career. I've been singing professsionally for more than 50 years. Other artists have been wonderful to me and, as the younger artists have come into the format they cite me as an influence - maybe because I'm one of the few artists still around that they heard growing up. Ha! Anyhow, I sing from my heart, I love country music and I love the people that respond to it. You never see yourself as others do but I've always beeen proud to be part of country music and I hope that the format is proud of me.

JoleneHOST: You have been the inspiration and the focus of many of today's most successful country music entertainers. Who inspired you the most? (from Pat)

George Jones: Artists like Roy Acuff and Hank Williams. You cannot believe the effect these artists had on people back then. They were huge stars. Lefty Frizzell was as big as Elvis in that the women went crazy for him - pulling at his clothes trying to touch him. I used to listen to the Grand Ole Opry when I was a kid, trying to stay awake to hear Roy Acuff. I played in a radio station band when I first started out and when Hank Williams came to town I was supposed to play guitar to back him up. I just froze and never hit a note! When I first started recording everyone told me to stop trying to sound like Hank and Lefty and start singing like George Jones. Now, kids are told to stop trying to sound like me. It's funny how it goes around but the artists you love as a fan when you are growing up are the ones that most inspire you.

JoleneHOST: How many shows a year do you typically do now?

George Jones: I'm doing 90 to 95 a year. I wanted to cut back and don't know how it is that I'm still doing so many. I had to make up a few dates from cancellations due to the car accident I had last year but they don't account for as many as I seem to be doing. We do good business on the road and work with great promoters who keep wanting me to come back. I guess as long as the people still want to buy tickets to my show, I'll keep doing them but I'd like to cut back to about 70 a year.

JoleneHOST: What are your feelings on your new album? I know I am looking forward to adding it to my ever-growing George Jones collection.

George Jones: I'm really happy with "The Rock." It seemed like an eternity to get it out since I recorded half or it while still at Asylum and the next half at Bandit. In between we had some legal issues for me to get out of my contract with Asylum/Warner Bros. Emory Gordy Jr. did the initial songs and then Keith Stegall did a few. I think we have some real good songs on the album and I think I'm doing some of my best singing. On "Cold Hard Truth" I was never able to go in and resing any of it because of the accident. On "The Rock" I was able to resing what I needed to resing. I prefer singing live with the band but sometimes you need to fix something that you don't want the whole band to stop for. I also like the songs on "The Rock" particularly "Honey Hush," "50,000 Names" and "I've Got Everything." "I've Got Everything" is a bit of a rocker but I have always liked that type song - something that makes you want to get up and move.

JoleneHOST: Is there any advice you have for up-and-coming country singers? (from Shel)

George Jones: Be real about what you do. Stay true to the voice inside you. Don't let the "business" change what it is you love because the people, the fans, respond to what is heartfelt. They can always tell when a singer is faking it.

JoleneHOST: What message would you like to give to your fans that are out there reading this? (from Shel)

George Jones: Most importantly, I'd like to thank all my fans. They have been incredible to me and given me an unbelievable career. It's hard for me to believe that I have been doing this for more than 50 years and I still look out at my shows and see all different ages, all types of people. Some are young kids with purple hair and pierced body parts who seeem to have discovered me on the internet to just regular country folks that have been listening to me for years. I just truly have the best fans and I love them all. I'd also like to remind people that if you love country music, you need to speak up for it. I'm worried that the format is going to be lost and I know from my shows that people miss country music but they need to speak up and let the music business know. Country fans need to support country music by buying albums and concert tickets for traditional artists or the music will just fade away. And that would be really sad.

Thanks for your time and interest.

George Jones.

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