Alan Eugene Jackson (born October 17, 1958) is an American Country Music artist known for his traditional, no-frills songwriting, down-home charm and humility... and shelf full of awards.
Jackson started out unassumingly enough in 1989 on Arista Records, which at the time had virtually no experience in the country music business. He was even working with Keith Stegall, a former solo singer with no production experience. Although his debut single "Blue Blooded Woman" flopped, he first cracked the Top 40 in 1990 with "Here in the Real World" and enjoyed nearly 20 years of hits. Coinciding with his departure from Arista, he provided duet vocals on Zac Brown Band's "As She's Walking Away". With his fortunes fading at radio in The New '10s, Jackson has moved to his own label, Alan's Country Records, with distribution by EMI.
His accolades include twenty-five Number One singles, fourteen Academy of Country Music awards, twelve Country Music Association awards and a Grammy.
Jackson also co-wrote singles for Faith Hill ("I Can't Do That Anymore"), Randy Travis ("I'd Surrender All", "Better Class of Losers"), Clay Walker ("If I Could Make a Living") and Chely Wright ("Til I Was Loved by You"). His nephew Adam Wright, and Adam's wife, Shannon, record on Alan's label as The Wrights, and they have occasionally collaborated with him.
- New Traditional (1987, early independent album)
- Here in the Real World (1990, Arista Records debut)
- Don't Rock the Jukebox (1991)
- A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'bout Love) (1992)
- Honky Tonk Christmas (1993)
- Who I Am (1994)
- The Greatest Hits Collection (1995)
- Everything I Love (1996)
- High Mileage (1998)
- Under the Influence (1999)
- When Somebody Loves You (2000)
- Drive (2002)
- Let It Be Christmas (2002)
- Greatest Hits Volume II (2003, originally released as Greatest Hits Volume II... and Some Other Stuff, featuring a bonus disc with eight album cuts)
- What I Do (2004)
- Precious Memories (2006, first Christian album)
- Like Red on a Rose (2006)
- Good Time (2008)
- Freight Train (2010)
- 34 Number Ones (2010)
- Thirty Miles West (2012, first album for EMI Nashville)
- Precious Memories Volume II (2013, second Christian album)
- The Bluegrass Album (2013)
- Angels and Alcohol (2015)
- Where Have You Gone (2021)
Alan Jackson and his works provide examples of:
- Accidental Marriage: "I Don't Even Know Your Name" has a man unintentionally fall in love with and marry a waitress after getting drunk.
- Album Title Drop: A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'bout Love) is named for a line in "Chattahoochee".
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk This Christmas".
- Bowdlerize: "I'll Try" opens with the line "Here we are, talkin' bout forever / Both know damn well it's not easy together". Even though "damn" is usually considered acceptable on country radio, the line still became "both know too well" on the radio edit.
- Christmas Songs: He has done two albums of Christmas music.
- Cover Album: Under the Influence was composed entirely of covers.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Done with his cover of Charly McClain' "Who's Cheatin' Who", which turns from a female perspective to a male one.
- Distinct Double Album: Greatest Hits II... and Some Other Stuff. The "Other Stuff" was a bonus disc comprising eight cuts from previous albums that had never been released as singles.
- Doo-Wop Progression: "Remember When".
- Dying Town: The town in "Little Man" is dying off because its small business owners are losing out against the big chain stores.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Alan "plays" a hammer striking an anvil on "Hard Hat and a Hammer."
- Generational Saga: The first two verses of "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" are about Alan learning how to drive as a boy, as he remembers his father's teachings and how he proud he was to receive approval. The final verse has Alan hoping that one day, his daughters will remember his instructing them with the same level of fondness.
- Hard Truckin': The subject of "Where I Come From" is a truck driver who travels across the country and finds things such as cuisine and people's behavior to be different than his Southern upbringing.
- Heavy Meta: "Three Minute Positive Not-Too-Country Up-Tempo Love Song" and "Don't Rock the Jukebox" both qualify.
- I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: In "Work in Progress", he admits to being forgetful and careless, but pleads with her to be patient because he's a work in progress.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore".
- It Will Never Catch On: According to the liner notes of his first Greatest Hits Album, Jackson thought that "Chattahoochee" was too dependent on a localized reference (the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama/Georgia border) to become a hit. His worries were for naught, as it remains one of his biggest hits.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "I'll Go On Loving You" is awfully melancholy for a love song to his wife. It doesn't help that it bears a striking melodical resemblance to "Suicide Is Painless".
- In the other direction, "Don't Rock the Jukebox" is pretty upbeat for a song about a guy trying to convince people to not play upbeat songs so he can commiserate.
- "Pop a Top" is a toe-tapping song about Drowning My Sorrows.
- Lyric Swap:
- "Where I Come From" can't seem to make up its mind whether the chorus is referring to pickin' or sittin', and whether it's on the front or back porch.
- Similarly, the third chorus of "I Still Like Bologna" changes "the sound of a whippoorwill down a country road" to "…a shovelhead down a gravel road".
- The last iteration of "Country Boy"'s chorus changes "Up city streets, down country roads" to "winding roads".
- Logging onto the Fourth Wall: Jackson created an "alanjacksonmemory.com" website as a tie-in to his 2000 single "www.memory".
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Don't Rock the Jukebox"
- Lyrical Shoehorn: Quite a few in the third and fourth verses of "Where I Come From", which are composed of awkward phrasings and rhymes that barely make sense (for instance, "lost a universal joint and had to use my finger" — possibly dialing a phone for help or hitchhiking?).
- Midword Rhyme: The first chorus to "Like Red on a Rose":And I love you like only little children love penniesAnd I love you 'cause I know that I can't do any——thing wrong
- New Media Are Evil: Subverted in "I Still Like Bologna", where he says that he is perfectly fine with technological advancements such as the Internet, cell phones, plasma television, and the like, and can appreciate their place in modern society — but that no amount of technology can replace the beauty of nature or a woman's love, or just something simple like bologna on white bread.
- The Power of Love: Referenced in "Love's Got a Hold on You":I called my doctor on the telephone
"Help me, Doc, there's something wrong
I can't shake it it's gone too far"
He said, "tell me what your symptoms are"
I said, "My hands are sweaty and my knees are weak
I can't eat and I can't sleep
It's turning me every way but loose"
He said, "it sounds like love's got a hold on you
No doubt love's got a hold on you"
- Pretty much the premise of "Livin' On Love"
- Rearrange the Song:
- "I'll Go On Loving You", from High Mileage, was re-recorded in 1999 as a duet with sertanejo musician Leonardo (of the duo Leandro e Leonardo) singing some of the verses in Portuguese.
- He re-recorded "A Woman's Love", also from High Mileage, for 2007's Like Red on a Rose. The re-recorded version was that album's second single.
- "Chattahoochee" got an extended remix for the music video. Said remix later appeared on his first Greatest Hits Album.
- Possibly as an homage to the various "line dance" remixes of The '90s, "Good Time" got a "Too Hot to Fish" remix that amped up the rhythm section and added a few vocal effects.
- Record Producer: He's worked with Keith Stegall on all but one album (the aforementioned Like Red on a Rose, produced by bluegrass queen Alison Krauss). Scott Hendricks (Restless Heart, Blake Shelton) co-produced the first two and "Tonight I Climbed the Wall" off the third, and his nephew Adam Wright co-produced his 2013 bluegrass album.
- Re-release the Song: Alan wanted to release "Home" off his first album, but decided against it because there was another song out by Joe Diffie that had the same title. The original recording ended up as a B-Side for several other singles before finally getting released off a Greatest Hits Album in 1996.
- Repurposed Pop Song: His version of "Mercury Blues" was rewritten to be about Ford trucks and used in mid-nineties Ford commercials.
- Rewind Gag: The last minute of the "Like Red on a Rose" music video is just the video rewinding.
- Rock-Star Song: "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow" is about a man's desire to rise to the top as a country singer.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: He often does his own backing vocals. And it shows.
- Signature Style: He tends to use the same musicians from album to album, helping to define his Three Chords and the Truth style even more. Not unlike George Strait, he tends toward spare, uncluttered production most of the time, dominated by Brent Mason's "chicken pickin'" style of guitar playing along with healthy doses of fiddle and steel. Unlike Strait, Jackson writes the majority of his songs and has a more twangy voice.
- Something Blues: "Mercury Blues," "Summertime Blues," "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues." Punned in "She's Got the Rhythm and I've Got the Blues," in which the "blues" are his post-break up feelings.
- The Something Song: "Three Minute Positive Not-Too-Country Up-Tempo Love Song". Also an example of Anti-Love Song, Running Time in the Title, Heavy Meta and Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Spelling Song: "Good Time" has the lyric "G with an O, O with a D / T with an I and an M and an E / That spells 'good time'."
- Take That!: "Murder on Music Row," his duet with George Strait, decrise the crossover-happy country music climate of the Turn of the Millennium.
- Telephone Song: "Wanted" has the narrator calling to place a "want ad" apologizing to the woman who left him and asking her to come back.
- 13 Is Unlucky: Lampshaded on the back of his Who I Am album. The track numbers skip from 12 to 14, with a note saying, "That's right folks, I am just a tad superstitious. - AJ"
- Three Chords and the Truth: Jackson is clearly influenced by the no-frills storytelling songs from the likes of Merle Haggard.
- Title-Only Chorus: "I'll Go On Loving You".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: A few occasions.
- "Remember When" begins in G, modulates down to C for a solo, and then goes up to A for the final verses.
- "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues" does the half-step-by-verse variant, going from D to E-flat to E.
- He also wrote Clay Walker's "If I Could Make a Living", which begins in F, then repeats the chorus in G and again in A at the end.
- Visual Pun: The video for "She's Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)", upon reaching the line "She spells out 'regret' in perfect time", has a woman literally moving her hands in the direction of the letters R-E-G-R-E-T as they appear onscreen.
- Vocal Evolution: His delivery was a bit more clipped and deep on New Traditional before going up to its familiar tone on Here in the Real World. Age has caused it to gradually deepen again, with a change evident as early as High Mileage; since about "Long Way to Go", his voice seems to have also gotten softer and weaker.
- Watching the Sunset: Mentioned in "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)".
- Went Crazy When They Left: "Gone Crazy"
- What Did I Do Last Night?: "I Don't Even Know Your Name" is about a man who gets drunk and marries a waitress who is missing some teeth without remembering it.
- What Would X Do?: From "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere":Alan: I could pay off my tab, pour myself in a cabAnd be back to work before twoAt a moment like this, I can't help but wonderWhat would Jimmy Buffett do?Jimmy: Funny you should ask, Alan...