“He’s always shunned me,” Jones said Monday (July 30) during an interview session with radio and Internet representatives. “When I’d be on an awards show with him, he always walked away when he saw me coming.”
Brooks often has said that he holds Jones in high regard and feels a sense of awe when he’s around the Country Music Hall of Fame member. He made a brief appearance in the video for Jones’ 1992-93 hit, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.”
When Jones and wife Nancy Jones returned home from a recent trip, they discovered that Brooks had called “about an hour before we landed. He had this long line of talking he did, said he’d just found a song and he was interested in doing a song with me if I was interested,” Jones said.
Nancy Jones called Brooks back and set up a meeting. He came over to the house and they talked about recording together. When he left his house, Jones said, Brooks was in tears, and the recording session was in the works.
“He’s got a cute little song called ‘Beer Run,’” Jones revealed. “It talks about getting with the boys and driving the pickup. I’m still listening to the tape. There’s some clever lines in it.
“The song starts off singing low. You say, [sings] ‘B-double-e-r r-u-n, beer run.’ You spell it out. Then you get up into your higher octave and start singing it.”
Jones does have one concern about the song.
“I didn’t care for the title,” he said with a laugh, “but when people hear the song, they won’t take it as a drinking song, I don’t think.”
Jones, who celebrates his 70th birthday on Sept. 12, has given up alcohol, tobacco — even coffee — following a life-threatening auto accident in March 1999.
“About eight months before I had my accident, I went back out in the woods on my property and I did a little praying, [asking] the good Lord to do something to wake me up and straighten my life up once and for all,” Jones recalled.
“I said, ‘Lord, I don’t care if you have to use a sledgehammer, whichever way you choose, I need to straighten my life up.’ That was about it,” Jones explained. “A few months later, this accident happened, and it did straighten me up. It put the fear of God in me.”
“When I first heard about it, they were going to do all the wild things I had done in my life,” Jones said.
He hopes some changes have been made to the script. “We talked with them. There’s no sense in doing all the gutty stuff. They can show me for what I was, in a little cleaned up way. I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. I might sneak down and try to catch one of them.”
Jones appears in concert at the Ryman Oct. 21, near the end of the play’s run, with Lauderdale as his opening act.
His advice to Lauderdale, as he prepares to play Jones: “Just be normal,” Jones says. “Just act naturally. He’s pretty much a good ol’ country boy, like myself. I’m sure he’s studied a little bit, maybe, of me.”
A single, “The Man He Was,” registered at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for Aug. 4, and a new album for BNA-distributed Bandit Records, originally slated for Sept. 11, now is scheduled for Sept. 25, in part to accommodate the Brooks duet.
“We’re gonna see how it comes out,” Jones said, “and maybe we’ll slip it on the album.”
As for his landmark 70th birthday, on Sept. 12, Jones has plans befitting a legend who has earned the right to rest on his laurels: I’ll probably lean back in the chair,” he said, “and be watching a movie or something on television.”