In one of Alan Jackson’s most revered songs, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”, he describes himself as “A singer of simple songs.” As proof of his sharp sense of self-awareness, Jackson can submit the greater part of his music catalogue as hard material evidence to support his claim.
Fortunately, in his case, “simple” has mostly translated to “transparent” rather than “amateur”, which is surely a difficult balance to strike. And while he has been successful at it more often than not, even he hasn’t always gotten it right.
In addition to his knack for singing simple songs, with few exceptions, Jackson can be counted on to deliver straight up neo-traditional country music. In this regard, “Hard Hat and a Hammer” does not disappoint. Featuring a delightful fiddle, rhythmic hammer sounds and typical Keith Stegall production (though Jackson almost seems to talk the song more than sing it), he pays tribute to the working man (and woman).
Since championing the “working man” is a theme that has thread its way through generations of country songs, this one is not revolutionary. It’s not even likely that Jackson’s latest addition to blue collar anthems will become a classic. While it sits precariously on the edge of simply being ear candy, it still works as an unpretentious tribute that is fun and always topically relevant. As the song says, “God bless the working man.”
Written by Alan Jackson
Listen: “Hard Hat and a Hammer”