For those of you who have been reading here at iwasBORNcountry.com, know that I have been teasing an Alan Jackson project for a few weeks. I’ve known what I wanted to do with it for awhile, it was just a matter of HOW I would present it.
It’s also likely that by following along with our 505 Favorite Country Songs Of The 90’s Countdown, that you know that I place Alan Jackson at the top of my all-time favorite artist list, in any genre. Fittingly, he was chosen for my first go in this new feature on the site.
In my opinion, you either absolutely love Alan Jackson’s music, or you’re wrong. I kid, kind of. Sure, there are a few songs in his catalog that I don’t love myself, but the majority of his work is solid and easily relatable.
In this feature, I plan to touch on album or two at a time, from the beginning of Alan Jackson’s career to his latest album, “Angels & Alcohol.” I’ll share my thoughts on every single and attempt to touch on each album cut. With around 20 records to cover, we have quite a journey ahead of us, so let’s get started!
Here In The Real World
Singles: Blue Blooded Woman (#45), Here In The Real World (#3), Wanted (#3), Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (#2), I’d Love You All Over Again (#1)
Blue Blooded Woman – Writers: Alan Jackson, Roger Murrah, Keith Stegall
Recognized as part of Country Music’s “Class Of ’89” (Including Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Mary Chapin Carpenter), Alan Jackson hit the country music scene with his first radio single, “Blue Blooded Woman” in late 1989. Now, I was only five years old at the time, so I can’t comment as far as my memory goes during the time period, but the debut single wasn’t able to break into the Top 40 country charts. Today, that would likely spell trouble for a modern country artist trying to break in, but luckily for Alan (and all of us), this was a different time. I specifically remember the first time I heard this song when my grandma bought me the Alan Jackson Greatest Video Hits on VHS that accompanied the album release in 1995. It was not on the CD itself, but the music video luckily made the cut for home video. (I didn’t receive my first CD player until Christmas of ’94, so I was a little behind on this one!)
Here In The Real Wold – Writers: Mark Irwin, Alan Jackson
In 1990, Arista Nashville released Alan Jackson’s debut album “Here In The Real World”. In a much better turn, the title track fared far stronger than the initial single, reaching #3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. As with the previous single, my memories of this song are strongly connected with the music video. I recall thinking that it was so cool that the video began with “old west footage,” (I had no idea who Gene Autry was at the time, ha!) and included it throughout. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the VHS version of the video on YouTube to share, but this one is tailed with a little Gene Autry at the end.
Wanted – Writers: Alan Jackson, Charlie Craig
I believe that in anyone else’s hands, “Wanted” may have been a little too gimmicky. Released in May of 1990 as the third single from “Here In The Real World,” Jackson would continue his rise to the top of the country charts, peaking again at #3.
Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow – Writers: Jackson, Jim McBride
Now this is a fun track! Alan Jackson co-wrote this hit with Jim McBride, whose songs had been cut previous by the likes of Conway Twitty, Alabama and others. This song came about when Jackson shared memories of his father winning a radio, his mother singing to him as a child and of course, her worries of him performing in bars. There’s the song, right there! Some dreams may be pretty far-fetched, but with enough determination and hard work, you can find your way. Alan Jackson is pretty solid proof of that, right there. “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
I’d Love You All Over Again – Writer: Alan Jackson
I’ve always strongly believed that Alan Jackson was at his best when recording songs that he had written or co-written himself. When flying solo, Jackson’s songs are so much more personal than many other country artists, especially in today’s game. Jackson wrote this song for his wife Denise, as they were nearing 10 years of marriage. There are so many love songs out there in country music, but when something comes along that feels like THIS love song, one realizes how unauthentic a lot of the others really are. Jackson took “I’d Love You All Over Again” to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart to become his first, of many, #1 hit!
As stated earlier, when Alan Jackson has a hand in writing a song, you can feel the difference. The case on his debut album is no different, as the lead-off track, “Ace Of Hearts” (Carson Chamberlain, Ron Moore, Lonnie Wilson) may be the weakest on the record. By no means is the song bad, but compared to everything else, which Jackson had a hand in, it sounds as if it would’ve been better, perhaps, in George Strait’s hands.
“Short Sweet Ride,” (Jackson, McBride) “She Don’t Get The Blues” (Jackson, McBride) and “Dog River Blues” (Jackson) are typical, but solid Jackson fare. Any of these three album cuts probably could’ve hit radio and found success, but with a #1 single on the air in March of 1991 and a second album already nearing completion, there isn’t always time to get each song to radio that you’d like!
Case in point: The true gem on “Here In The Real World” wouldn’t be released as a radio single until Alan Jackson’s first greatest hits album a few years later. “Home,” (Alan Jackson) was clearly a favorite of Jackson himself, as it was included as the B-Side to “Blue Blooded Woman,” “I’d Love You All Over Again” and then along with future single, “Don’t Rock The Jukebox.” I suppose you can have the best song in the world, but without the right timing, it just has to wait!
“Here In The Real World” reached the #4 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, and #57 on their Top 200 Albums (all genres) chart. Not too bad for one’s first time out! Of course, Jackson would top himself shortly after with his sophomore album, “Don’t Rock The Jukebox.”