When it comes to traditional country music, George Jones is about as country as you can get.
Obviously country music has changed a lot since George Jones was cranking out hit after hit over his staggering 50-plus year career – and for the most part, it hasn’t been for the better.
Now of course the debate around what’s “country” and what’s “pop” has always been around, going back as far as the “Nashville sound” of the ’50s and ’60s, the “countrypolitan” era of the ’70s, Urban Cowboy and Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” in the ’80s, and of course Garth Brooks in the 1990s.
But compared to what started happening in the 2000s, all of those are just about as country as cornbread.
In the late 2000s, artists like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood were leading the charge of artists making more pop-sounding music and experiencing success not only on the country charts, but on crossover pop and adult contemporary charts as well.
And George Jones wasn’t a fan.
Asked about Underwood and Swift in an interview with the AP back in 2009, Jones didn’t mince words about the state of country music:
“I think 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 them their own title. Because they’re definitely not traditional country music.”
And even back in 2009, Jones was yearning for the return of traditional country music – blissfully unaware of just how bad it would get during the bro-country era that was to follow:
“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.”
God bless George Jones for standing up for real country music.