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”
I think a “B” is very generous. It sure won’t make me forget Alabama’s “Forty Hour Week”.
If it didn’t sound so pleasant to me, I’d probably give it a lower grade. I’m definitely a bigger fan of other working class anthems, but there’s something about this that sounds authentic to me.
I’m with Leeann on this one. It probably wouldn’t make my list of favorite Alan Jackson songs, but I like it.
You always seem to sum up songs that I ‘like for the most part’ better than I can, Leeann. I agree with every point you made in this review, especially that the song sounds authentic to me. I’m inclined to let Alan Jackson slide with songs and sounds I would likely crucify other artists for because I believe him. Authenticity makes a big difference to me.
…same here, razor x.
Authenticity makes a big difference to me.
Completely agree. I like this song, too, and I think a B is pretty spot-on.
Yeah, it’s alright. A B sounds good