Single Review: Alan Jackson, “You Go Your Way”

You know the country music market is in sore straits when a career-best effort from Alan Jackson dies outside the Top 20 on the charts.  It’s easy to wonder if, after more than two decades of populating country airwaves with quality material well-sung and tastefully produced, the hits may finally be drying up for Alan Jackson.  That would be a huge shame, because finely polished country tunes like current single “You Go Your Way” are becoming increasingly rare on country radio, with Jackson having been one of the last nineties veterans standing who was still able to sneak such efforts into the playlists.

In structure and theme, “You Go Your Way” bears a moderate resemblance to George Strait’s classic 1993 hit “Easy Come, Easy Go,” but with a deeper shade of heartache.  Though Jackson’s narrator at first seems to profess the same casual indifference as Strait does when watching his lover leave, he soon reveals that he’s not taking it all in stride – a fact made unmistakable by the hook “You go your way… and I’ll go crazy.”  Clever little couplets like “I poured some bourbon in a coffee cup/ It’s been too long since I drank too much”  add interest and first-person detail to the scenario without distracting from it.  He’s not so much wallowing in his sorrow as accepting it with passive resignation.

The lyric is framed in a quietly infectious melody as well as a fiddle and steel-drenched Keith Stegall arrangement that sounds absolutely fantastic.  Though we would generally expect nothing less from Alan Jackson, such work seems almost revolutionary in comparison to the warmed-over sounds that have all but taken over country radio.

Whether “You Go Your Way” will re-ignite Jackson’s radio success remains to be seen, but if not, it won’t be for lack of quality.  Though its artistry doesn’t stand quite as tall in Jackson’s catalog as “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” “You Go Your Way” is an all-around solid record that would make a most refreshing presence on the airwaves should it find a home on country radio.

Written by Troy Jones, Tony Lane, and David Lee

Grade:  A-

Listen:  You Go Your Way

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5 Comments

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5 Responses to Single Review: Alan Jackson, “You Go Your Way”

  1. PSU MikeNo Gravatar

    Ben, I hate to be that annoying guy that points out mistakes…but when I clicked on the link for the song, it came up playing the new Taylor Swift song. I just figured I’d let you guys know (and to spare unsuspecting people from having to hear that song against their will…the horror!!!!)

    If it’s okay, I do have a link to a youtube video that I found until you guys fix the link… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPBCJfIK7aM

    As for the song itself, I enjoyed it, but I also think that if “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” didn’t get airplay, this probably won’t either. It’s a shame, because while I don’t believe this is Alan’s best song, I do think it’s better than the vast majority of what’s getting airplay right now. Hopefully, for our sake, country radio isn’t finished with Alan just yet.

  2. This is one of my favorites from the album. The first time I heard the line “I poured some bourbon in a coffee cup/It’s been too long since I drank too much”, I thought someone had been spying on me. I had no idea anyone else drank their bourbon from a coffee cup.

    Great review, obviously.

  3. Thanks for pointing that out, Mike. I think that was technically All Access’ bungle and not mine, but I didn’t test that link when I copied and pasted it. It should be fixed now.

    Thanks, J.R.!

  4. PSU MikeNo Gravatar

    Not a problem…I’ve been there with the technical snafus.

    Nice job on the review.

  5. TomNo Gravatar

    …guess the realisation that there will fewer and fewer alan jackson songs played on the “today’s country” stations would be a decent reason to try once having some bourbon from a coffee cup – that could go well with “truck, yeah!”, i’d imagine.

    even though fishin’ in the same waters this song depicts a totally different sentiment about lost love. both are very credible pictures and aj brings them across just perfectly only a few skips apart from each other on that terrific album.

    here in switzerland, older folks quite often refer to good craftsmen as “master”. no surprise that aj had been given this respectful attribute too over here a long time ago.