Written by Greg Crowe, Johnny Garcia, and Adam Wood
Thirty years ago, Alan Jackson issued an urgent plea while he was nursing a broken heart: “I don’t feel like rockin’ since my baby’s gone, so don’t rock the jukebox. Play me a country song.”
Thirty years later, Trace Adkins surveys the current landscape of country music and realizes he’ll need to be a little more specific. He’s scanning the dial for country radio stations, but he’s picking up nothing but party songs:
Dying for some steel guitar
And to hear somebody falling apart
To share my pain but it sounds the same
On every station in this car
Nobody’s singing ’bout love gone wrong
Or being as lonely as the night is long
I like a party in a truck
Every bit as much as the next guy
But come on, she’s gone
And sometimes you need a heartbreak song
The criticism here is less direct than Jackson’s recent traditionalist lament, “Where Have You Gone,” but it’s ultimately more potent. It takes more than just the fiddle and steel to make a great country song. You could convert many of the songs on the radio today to pure country arrangements, and they’d still fall short because they lack the emotional impact of a truly great country song.
Sometimes you need a heartbreak song. Funny how this “Heartbreak Song” doesn’t even have a particularly traditional arrangement, but makes the case for the necessity of country music as well as anything has in recent years.