Press Gazette

If you’ve caught an interview by Country Music Hall of Famer George Jones in recent years, it’s no secret he isn’t a big fan of where the genre has moved in the last decade with the young, crossover acts.

“We’re not into this with the kids,’’ he said in 2006 when he and Merle Haggard recorded an album together. “It’s a lot different sound when you’re singing to kids. These kids have to have a beat mostly. … It’s not traditional country – the old country. You can call that what you want to.’’

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Then, two years ago, when asked what he thought about music by top country stars like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, he said, while they are good, “they’ve stolen our identity.”

“They had to use something that was established already, and that’s traditional country music. So what they need to do really, I think, is find their own title, because they’re definitely not traditional country music,” he said.

“It’s good to know that we still do traditional country music. Alan Jackson still does it, so does George Strait. We still have it, and there’s quite a few of us that are going to hope that it comes back one of these days.”

Still, his contemporaries haven’t always stuck to traditional country, either. The late Johnny Cash was met with critical acclaim when he covered the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt.” Asked whether he’d ever branch out to a completely different genre of music, like heavy metal or rap, Jones laughed and said: “Rap? That’s tacky.”

Jones, who just celebrated his 80th birthday last month, will play some of his most-requested songs for his return to Oneida Casino on Sunday, including classics like “White Lightning,” “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.’’

“The first time I heard it I fell in love with it,’’ Jones has said of the latter. “It had a beautiful melody. Part of the song wasn’t finished as of yet. I told them the woman needed to come back. Even if it was at his funeral. That’s the talking part. I told (former manager) Billy Sherrill it was too sad. I loved it, but I just didn’t think it would do anything. It was on my mind every day for almost a year before I actually went in to record.’’