So catchy, so charming, and so full of little funny details that you can forgive him for ripping off “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” so blatantly.
Written by Alan Jackson
Next: Gone Country
Previous: Summertime Blues
A blatant attempt to recreate the “Chattahoochee” phenomenon.
It doesn't work. Jackson's too old to be singing “Summertime Blues”, and the charm of the Eddie Cochran original is lost by forcing those country line-dance beats into the backing track.
It was a big hit, but “Summertime Blues” remains an artistic low point in his career.
Written by Jerry Capeheart and Eddie Cochran
Next: Livin' On Love
Previous: (Who Says) You Can't Have it All
“(Who Says) You Can't Have It All” is not just an average song of lost love. Rather, the loss translates into a certain resolution from a man who is the lord and master of his proverbial castle that has turned into nothing more than a lonely room with “a ceiling, a floor and four walls”, full of pictures and memories of the broken past.
From the first strains of the mournful fiddle, we can almost be sure that we will be treated to a pure country song. What's more, Alan Jackson's equally forlorn voice singing the opening lyrics, “A stark naked light bulb hangs over my head/ There's one lonely pillow on my double bed”, serves as confirmation that we're in for 3 minutes and 30 seconds of a deliciously straight-up country weeper that turns out to be one of Jackson's most satisfying singles yet.
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
Next: Summertime Blues
Previous: Mercury Blues
Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, and keyboardist Hargus “Pig” Robbins will join the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
Brooks is the top-selling country music artist in history. At fifty, he is one of the youngest living inductees ever.
Smith is the fifth female artist to be inducted since 2008, when Emmylou Harris ended a nine year drought for female inductees.
Since playing on the George Jones classic “White Lightning” in 1957, Robbins has recorded with countless legends of country and rock music, including Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Alan Jackson, and Bob Dylan.
What’s your take on the 2012 inductees? More importantly, who deserves to join them in 2013?
We’ll run a list of our picks for the next round. Share your suggestions in the comments!
The Class of 1989 permanently changed the face of country music. Clint Black was its valedictorian.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Texas, Black’s vocal talent was evident at an early age. He played in a band with his older brothers, and taking a gamble, he dropped out of high school and pursued a solo career.
The new traditionalist movement of the early eighties inspired him to commit himself to the country music genre. As he honed his craft throughout the eighties, he met songwriter and guitarist Hayden Nicholas, who would become an instrumental component of Black’s success.
Signing with RCA, he recorded his debut album with his road band. Black wrote or co-wrote every track on Killin’ Time, and the 1989 release had a seismic impact on country music. Black became the first country artist in history to have his first four singles reach #1, and the album quickly reached multi-platinum status. Beyond its sales and radio impact, Killin’ Time was widely hailed by critics and genre enthusiasts as a masterpiece.
The impact of Black opened the doors for fellow artists like Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, and Alan Jackson to find similar massive success with their debut albums. Together, they rejuvenated the country music market, putting it on the even playing field with pop, rock, and R&B that it still enjoys today. Black won several major industry awards, and then had another multi-platinum album with his sophomore set, Put Yourself in My Shoes.
Throughout the nineties, Black continued to write and record radio hits. Even as his album sales cooled to platinum and then gold, he still maintained a streak of top ten hits. It wasn’t until his 29th solo single, “Loosen Up My Strings” in 1998, that he missed the top ten. To a certain extent, Black’s profile was reduced because of the very door that he opened. The flood of talent that followed in his wake included major talents who soon overshadowed him.
The tail end of his run with RCA found him recording with wife Lisa Hartman Black, and they enjoyed a big hit with their duet, “When I Said I Do.” Collaborations with Wynonna, Steve Wariner, Roy Rogers and Martina McBride also gained positive attention. In the new century, Black took the bold step of launching his own label, Equity Records, resulting in two studio albums that achieved moderate success. One of them, 2004′s Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic, was his most critically acclaimed set in years.
His most recent release is 2007′s Love Songs, which featured re-recordings of some of his hit ballads from the nineties. He’s kept his profile alive with various film and television appearances, and he does some light touring, preferring at this stage to spend as much time as possible with his family.
Next: #62. Red Foley
Previous: #64. Jerry Reed
A throwaway track that ended up being a pretty big hit.
The song had been recorded several times over the years, by everyone from Steve Miller Band to Meat Loaf. But Jackson had the biggest hit with it, with its driving beat capitalizing on the success of “Chattahoochee.”
In retrospect, it might be the least essential Jackson hit of its era. Fun to listen to, but not worth making extra effort to seek out.
Written by K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins
Next: (Who Says) You Can’t Have it All
This timeless classic won CMA trophies for both Single and Song of the year, and was Jackson’s signature song for the rest of the nineties.
Why did it work so well?
Perhaps because it looked back on the innocence of adolescence with bemusement and fondness for that transitional period of life.
Or perhaps because it rhymed Chattahoochee with “hoochie coochie.”
Regardless, with so many of our male stars today in a permanent state of adolescence, “Chattahoochee” is a refreshing reminder that your late teens should shape who you are today, not who you wish you could still be.
Oh, and if you came to country music in the current century, this is the song that “Red Dirt Road” ripped off.
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
Next: Mercury Blues
Previous: Tonight I Climbed the Wall
There really isn’t anything much more sad or upsetting in a relationship than cold, awkward silence. Things left unsaid or the silence after things that shouldn’t have been said can create what seems like an impenetrable, cold wall.
In his twelfth single, Alan Jackson expertly captures the forlornness of being in just such a situation. With crying steel and mournful vocals, “Tonight I Climbed the Wall” sounds like a perfect country song. Except, there’s a happy ending where, in the end, humility saves the day and the wall of silence is climbed. Ultimately, a song that manages to be both mournful and hopeful makes for an even more perfect country song.
Peaking at #4, “Tonight I Climbed the Wall” may not be one of Jackson’s signature hits, but its quality makes it one of his best.
Written by Alan Jackson
A deeply moving spin on the same concept that anchors “Blame it On Me”, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” is the story of a man who loves the woman leaving him so much, he’s even willing to say she left him so she can save face.
As with many great country songs, the devil is in the details. All of the direct consequences of a relationship’s end are explored, and as they get more mundane, the song becomes more powerful. In great country music, reality always trumps fantasy.
I fear that Jackson’s remarkable run at radio may have already drawn to a close, but if there’s any justice, this will reignite his presence on the radio dial. His new release ranks among his best work, and given that he’s one of the genre’s all time greats, that’s heady company for it to be in.
Written by Jay Knowles and Adam Wright
This mid-tempo gem, written by Jackson and Randy Travis, showcases production that still sounds vibrant almost twenty years later. With steel guitar and honky tonk piano aplenty, “She’s Got the Rhythm (and I’ve Got the Blues)” is simply a two-and-a-half minute sonic delight.
Furthermore, the song’s concept is accentuated by its clever title and Jackson’s amusingly mournful delivery, including a pitiful “Yee haw” that ends up sounding more funny than sad, which ultimately describes the song as a whole, despite the theme of lost love.
Written by Alan Jackson and Randy Travis
Next: Tonight I Climbed the Wall
Previous: Love’s Got a Hold on You