Alan Jackson’s 1991 Follow-Up To Here In The Real World Cements His Place In Country Music For Decades To Come.
Welcome to BORN Country’s Album Essentials! Here, we will discuss some of the most iconic country music albums of the 90’s. These are albums that should be on the shelves of any true 90’s country fan and have stood the test of time. Each album will include songs that not only made incredible radio hits, but we will also dive into the lesser known album cuts that never made it into the country music charts.
From one of country music’s all-time iconic artists comes the third entry in our weekly Album Essentials series, Alan Jackson’s Don’t Rock The Jukebox! Though Jackson has released 16 studio albums to this day, his second record is still among not only HIS very best, but easily one of the greatest of all time. From an appearance by the legendary George Jones to a song co-written by Randy Travis, Jackson’s sophomore release clearly stands out and most certainly deserves its place in our Album Essentials collection.
Don’t Rock The Jukebox (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Alan Jackson, Roger Murrah, Keith Stegall
The lead-off single, and title cut from Don’t Rock The Jukebox is easily one of Alan Jackson’s most well-known songs. Though my first experience hearing Alan Jackson wouldn’t come until the third record, I do recall listening to this album, and this song in particular, when my mother purchased the cassette. At that point, the only two songs I wanted to hear on a car ride would be “Chattahoochee” or “Don’t Rock The Jukebox.” Constantly. For those of you reading who also experience the cassette tape era, you remember how frustrating it is to find a particular song… Imagine a 7 or 8 year old attempting to do so while you were driving. Ha!
Before we move on, I want to point out something from the music video that accompanied “Don’t Rock The Jukebox.” Near the end, we are treated to a little cameo from country music legend, George Jones. Not only does he appear in the video, but he also recorded a line for an album cut, “Just Playin’ Possum.” Think about this: You are recording/releasing the second album in your young career, and you are able to have whom many consider to be the finest country music artist of all-time putting time into YOUR music. That is absolutely HUGE!!! Mr. Jones could clearly see what Alan Jackson was all about and where he could go in the future. He was right! “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1991.
Someday (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Jackson, Jim McBride
Following the first single from Don’t Rock The Jukebox and it’s success, Jackson’s second track, “Someday” went to radio in August of 1991. Many people can relate to a song or situation like this. Waiting for one’s significant other to catch up with them, whether in maturity, considering marriage or what have you can grow frustrating over time. I can’t imagine what would be more upsetting in this situation: Continuously waiting for them to change their ways “Someday” or deciding that it’s finally time to separate yourself from said relationship. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, “Sometimes, someday just never comes.” Sad stuff, right there, folks. “Someday” would become Jackson’s third #1 single in November of ’91.
Dallas (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Jackson, Stegall
No one has ever accused country music of not bringing us enough sad songs of heartbreak! On the tails of “Someday,” the third single from Don’t Rock The Jukebox debuted in December of ’91. Another characteristic of country music, not as much today, but definitely in the 90’s and prior, artists would use some clever wordplay in their lyrics. In the wrong hands, this can come off poorly, but we are talking Alan Jackson here. I didn’t understand the “joke” behind this song of lost love at my young age when it was released, but one day, it just “clicked”… “THE GIRL’S NAME IS DALLAS!” Sure, it’s pretty clear in the song, but dang, I was so proud of myself, haha. Continuing this string of success, Jackson again reached the #1 spot with “Dallas.”
Midnight In Montgomery (Chart Peak: #3) – Writers: Jackson, Don Sampson
Hands down, “Midnight In Montgomery” is Alan Jackson’s most haunting song. Twenty-three years later and it still gives me goosebumps nearly every time that I listen! The mental image of anyone’s spirit appearing and speaking to you while you visit their gravesite gives me chills. In the case of this story, our narrator stops off in Montgomery, Alabama and is paid a visit by the ghost of Hank Williams, Sr. The “ghost story” in country music is nothing new, as evident in songs by The Charlie Daniels Band (“The Legend Of Wooley Swamp“, Johnny Cash (“Ghost Riders In The Sky“), David Allen Coe “The Ride“, in which the narrator also has a run in with Hank, Sr.), and many others. Though still a successful hit, “Midnight In Montgomery” broke Jackson’s #1 streak, peaking at #3 on the Hot Country Songs chart. He would be back on the very top soon enough. Alan Jackson took home the CMA trophy for Music Video Of The Year in 1992 for “Midnight In Montgomery.”
Love’s Got A Hold On You (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Carson Chamberlain, Stegall
After three slower paced singles, it was time to speed it back up a bit with something fun and lighthearted. In July of 1992, “Love’s Got A Hold On You” began spinning on radio. It took approximately two months to climb all the way to #1, continuing Alan Jackson’s chart topping ways after missing the top spot with his previous single. This is another prime example of a song that would maybe come off as just plain goofy in anyone else’s hands, while Jackson’s charm turns that all around.
Of the five album cuts from Don’t Rock The Jukebox, “That’s All I Need To Know” (Alan Jackson, Jim McBride), is the one That I recall the most from childhood. I imagine that would be due to it being on the same side of the cassette as Don’t Rock The Jukebox and three other singles. I suppose that I didn’t make it to Side B too much back then.
That’s certainly not to say that there aren’t any treasures in the four album tracks on Side B. After “Someday,” we have the previously mentioned “Just Playin’ Possum” (Jackson, McBride, Gary Overton), which has the now classic Alan Jackson sound. Again, how wild to have the legendary George Jones on your sophomore record, especially on a track that would end up not even becoming a radio single?
I had just realized within the last few years or so, that Alan Jackson and another mega-star of the period, Randy Travis, got together to write some songs in the early 90’s. In 1992, Randy Travis released his album High Lonesome which contained three songs co-written by Jackson: “Forever Together,” “Better Class Of Losers,” “I’d Surrender All” and also a co-write with Jackson’s regular partner, Jim McBride, in “Allergic To The Blues.” I thought it funny, because I had always though that “Better Class Of Losers” sounded like an Alan Jackson song! In turn, “From A Distance” on Don’t Rock The Jukebox, sounds very much like a Randy Travis song. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?
Rounding out the album, two co-writes between Alan Jackson and Don Sampson, “Walking The Floor Over Me,” and “Working Class Hero” features that classic Alan Jackson wordplay that he can work so well.
Don’t Rock The Jukebox would peak at #2 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and #17 on the Billboard 200 (Overall) chart. The Academy of Country Music (ACM) awarded Alan Jackson with “Album Of The Year” and “Single Of The Year.”