You are still touring at 78 years old. What is it about the road that keeps you on it?
I would have to say it is the fans that keep me on it. I still love to entertain them and to connect with them.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” has been called the greatest country song by some and one of the greatest by many others. What does that song mean to you, and how does it stand out from all the others you’ve recorded?
Well it was my biggest hit ever and what a lot of people refer to as a “career” record. I fought my producer Billy Sherrill for years about cutting that song. I didn’t want to and he wanted me to. I told him, no one will play that song it is just too sad. Boy was I wrong!
You endured your fair share of having your private life open for all to see — even before the days of TMZ and YouTube. How do today’s paparazzi compare to those from the ’70s and ’80s?
There are so many more of them and information is readily available 24 hours a day from the actual paparazzi to just normal folks with cell phones that can record video or take pictures. I would have to say it is a lot worse now than it was back in the ’70s and ’80s just because of that.
How much touring are you doing, and where are you headed?
By choice, I only work about 60 shows a year. We are kinda all over the place, Mescalero, N.M., for two days; Camp Verde, Ariz.; Philadelphia, Miss.; Rhinelander, Wis.; Michicgan City, Ind.; and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. That is just the rest of June and July.
A few other country artists say the genre is more receptive of singer/ songwriters these days. What’s your take on that? Is it easier or tougher for the guy doing rounds in Nashville to make it big?
I really think it is harder because the labels have scaled back so there are fewer opportunities for new artists and there seems to be more talented people than ever.
Also about the music biz: There’s a lot of buzz about country crossovers being a new thing, but is it so new? I remember Faith Hill and Shania Twain.
In my opinion, a lot of it isn’t country music to begin with so crossing over really means they have moved to the genre they should have been in all along.
What kind of crossover success did you see across your career, and did you ever get a chance to enjoy any crossovers of your own?
I don’t think I ever had any crossover success. I am about as country as you can get so I didn’t get played on any pop stations