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At 80, George Jones eyes duets project

“I would love do few albums with some different artists” says George Jones about returning recording studio.

“I would love to do a few albums with some different artists,” says George Jones, about returning to the recording studio.

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8 p.m. Oct. 29

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Updated: January 23, 2012 4:19AM

George Jones, who turned 80 last month, doesn’t have any plans to return to the studio for a solo project anytime soon.

But the Country Music Hall of Famer doesn’t rule out any future collaborations with other artists.

“I would love to do a few albums with some different artists,” he says. “As far as any singles go, I’m not really looking forward to that. I would love to do some duets again, maybe like some of the funny things that Ernest Tubb and Red Foley used to do years ago,” alluding to hits like “Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age” and “Too Old To Cut The Mustard.”

Jones, who has placed more entries on Billboard’s Country Songs chart than any other, has made some great decisions over the years. Songs like “Tender Years,” “The Window Up Above” and “The Grand Tour” stand as some of Country Music’s top performances of all time. His 1980 chart-topper, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” is generally recognized as the greatest song of all time in the genre.

But, as the 2005 album “Hits I Missed ... And One I Didn’t” shows, there were a few songs that Jones passed on that became hits for other artists. If he could pick just a few records he could have back, what would they be?

“Well, I turned down ‘Oh, Lonesome Me’ by Don Gibson (1958). I turned down ‘The Image Of Me’ by Conway Twitty (1968). One of the good ones that I fell in love with but I fell in love with too late was ‘Too Cold At Home.’ Bobby Harden brought me that one back in 1990, but he just brought me the words. That’s one I wish I had done, but I couldn’t see anything that good about it with no music. I thought ‘Who in the hell wants to hear a song about the house being cold, and it being too cold at home. That’s been going on for a lot of years.’ The next thing I know, Mark Chesnutt has his first number one hit. So that just goes to show that you’re not always right.”

What about the songs he has cut? Obviously, Jones has his favorites. But, they may not be what you suspect.

“I’m in love with a lot of them,” he says. “I think a lot of stuff from the albums are better than some of the hits I had. You can make good choices, or bad choices,” he says with a grin (and nod to his 1999 hit “Choices,” perhaps). “But, we made a few.”

Many in Nashville probably are pleasantly surprised that Jones has reached this personal milestone. After all, his struggles with alcoholism and drugs in the 1970s and 1980s are well-documented. Is Jones surprised that he is still here today — almost six decades after his first single, “There Ain’t No Money In This Deal?”

“I don’t know what I would have said because I never thought about dying,” he admits. “You just wake up one day and look in the mirror and go ‘What happened?’ ” he says sheepishly. “That’s just the way it works.”

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