Still going strong a month away from his seventy-fifth birthday, Jones is currently back in the studio recording a new album with Merle Haggard, Kickin’ Out the Footlights … Again (Bandit).
You’re about to be 75. Anything you’d do over? I never dreamed I would have the life that I’ve had. I’m in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I have loyal fans. It tears me up when people tell me they went to see me and I didn’t show. I regret the mess I made with some of my ex-wives and kids. But truth be told, I probably would do it the same if given the chance again.
You’re still playing a lot of dates. I love to go out and sing. I don’t know what I would do with myself if I stopped working. Plus, I love to buy expensive cars, so working allows me to indulge myself.
Tell us about your album with Merle. It’s the first one in 25 years. He’s going to cut five of my hits, I’ll cut five of his, and then we’ll do some duets. I’m excited about it. Merle is my favorite artist. In fact, I wonder about doing this, because what can I add to a song he’s already done?
So does country music have a future? I don’t know if it does—not in Nashville, anyway. The labels don’t want anyone to be real country. They want artists they can mold. Can you imagine me or Merle or Willie coming along now?