Single Review: Alan Jackson, “Jim and Jack and Hank”

Alan Jackson Angels and Alcohol

“Jim and Jack and Hank”
Alan Jackson

Written by Alan Jackson

It’s country. It’s clever. It’s funny.

It’s classic Alan Jackson, with his signature attention to details and refusal to do cutesy rhymes at the end of each line.

If he had sent this to radio in 1994, it would spend five weeks at #1.

Just one thing. Perhaps my ever-increasing age and work fatigue is clouding my judgment, but I could swear the melody of the verses sounds an awful lot like “Achy Breaky Heart.”

But he name checks Loretta and Willie and Tammy and George in one of those old-school talk-outs over the record fade. So all is forgiven.

Grade: B+


  1. It definitely sounds like the same melody as “Achy Breaky Heart”. I thought the same thing the first time I heard it.

  2. This will be lucky to chart at all and I’d be really stunned if it got to the top twenty. Twenty years ago this would have been a surefire top three

    The melody is a pastiche of “Acky Breaky Heart” on the verses and “Walking After Midnight” on the part of the chorus

    Good song – definite A-

  3. The production sounds solid, and Jackson’s more rougher texture vocally over recent years also is as refreshing as ever hearing.

    However, as much as I know my following assertion will be controversial to some if not most, I have to add Jackson is better than this lyrically…………..and I couldn’t help but feel the way the song is framed makes it sound kind of sexist.

    In the first verse, we see the fallout as the subject walks out on the narrator: which in itself is no big deal because that happens in acrimonious break-up situations. But then you get to the chorus; where Jackson rattles off a list of possessions she can keep including “all that stuff for ladies” and sparkling water and so forth………………which at best seems to once again insinuate that most women in divorce situations are hungry for possessions and are pickpockets. This is most certainly not the first time this caricature had been projected in song (Montgomery Gentry ‘ s “I’ll Keep The Kids” springs to mind), but it’s still kind of startling hearing from someone like Jackson.

    And then he utters: “You’re just a total blank!” I don’t exactly know what to make of that line. Considering the many definitions of blank, is he simply stating she’s of no use to him any longer, or is he saying “blank” to mask a more profane word he thinks of her in his mind? I concede it may just be me, but that nonetheless was an off-putting moment to me.

    Finally, there’s the broader framing to consider. In the verses and chorus, the sole female mentioned (his ex) is scorned, while every other character and proper noun he alludes to is male and is regarded as a voice of reason or wisdom. In the second verse, Jackson describes his father overhearing much of the feud after being woken from his nap and, after explaining the situation to him, says that he had her figured all along and he’s better off forgetting about her. Fair enough. But when you also consider all three proper nouns in the title referring to males………………and you have to wait until the outro to hear the narrator cite two traditional female country legends favorably…………….I’m sorry, but the way this song us framed can’t help but sound a little sexist to me.

    Of course, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of acrimonious break-up songs in the first place. I get why they exist, and I also get they are probably something of an acquired taste. But much more often than not, those type of songs just smack as juvenile and needlessly bitter and make everyone involved look like assholes. Breaking up hurts badly, and I know emotions tend to rub rather raw in such instances. I just find such experiences are a lot more nuanced than how most songs of that sort make them out to be……………..and even if you don’t consider the framing of the songwriting here sexist whatsoever, it’s hard not to argue Jackson is STILL a lot better than this.


    Despite my misgivings with the lyrical content, it’s always great to hear Jackson’s voice again and I really dig the production too. While I can see where the “Achy Breaky Heart” influences come to play, they’re certainly not glaring to the point they eclipse the song or smack as plagiarism *aka Thomas Rhett’s “Crash & Burn”, I’m looking at you).

    In the end, I’m giving this a weak B to strong B-. I am wildly optimistic he’ll have much better deeper cuts than this on his forthcoming album.

  4. Yeah, Rhett’s almost as bad as that woman who nakedly stole the tune to “I Feel Alright” for some song about burning down her boyfriend’s house!

    Anyway, I do see what you’re saying, I do think the “total blank” line is more about her being a boring human being/non-entity than him saying “you’re just a total [expletive].”

  5. I acknowledge that my take on this song won’t go over well with plenty of listeners here. I just feel we all owe it to ourselves to speak up regardless of how unpopular the perspective might be, as long as it’s not hurting anyone! =)

    That’s just how I felt the first time I listened to it in full. Then I listened again to see if my ears were deceiving me, but I still felt a little uncomfortable by the framing of the song. Perhaps I interpreted it too literally, perhaps I viewed it through a filter unknowingly. But that’s just the conclusion I drew.


    For some reason, when I heard the “You’re just a total blank!” line, I was reminded of Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” of all songs. I know that sounds treasonous to most Jackson fans since Jackson is obviously lightyears beyond Swindell in excellence…………….but let me explain.

    I mentioned when “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” was released that I saw it as country/”country”‘s equivalent of Big Sean’s “I Don’t Give A F***”. In fact, I could effortlessly picture Swindell and his fellow writers sitting around on the porch listening to pop and rap music, and then they heard a song with a similar subject matter as “I Don’t Give A F***” and thought: “Hey, let’s write that! Let’s write a country kiss-off song like that!” But they also knew they couldn’t say the B-word in the title or the hook, so they thought: “Hey, why don’t we just say baby or girl instead? Like ‘Yeah girl, you ain’t worth the whiskey!'” And the rest is history.

    Obviously, we all know Alan Jackson is an absolute gentleman with a laid-back charm and clearly respects women. So of course I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt he was never intending to write anything remotely sexist or, worse, misogynistic.

    I just felt some of these lyrics just weren’t framed and executed well is all, and on paper seem a little bitter. And it shouldn’t be hard to see, at least on paper, why a line like “You’re just a total blank!” was necessary to begin with.

  6. Oh, this song is not dissimilar at all in either tone or intent from “She Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.”

    Of course, I never really had a problem with “She Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” or pretended that it was anything other than “I Don’t Give a F***.”

    I think this is a much better executed version of the same idea, but it still isn’t all that great.

    Again, I like Toby Keith’s version of “We broke up, but I’m okay” far, far more.

  7. Personally, I loathed “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” because it smacks as the most shameless form of pandering and tries so unbelievably hard to demand sympathy when the narrator deserves absolutely none.

    And how was I expected to believe he’s clearly already moved on from his ex when he won’t stop whining about her in the lyrics? I’ve heard a few argue that the song is actually meant to be interpreted with a wink; as in Swindell is playing the part of a rejected man who is in abject denial of still reeling through the grieving process. But I don’t buy that one second because Swindell simply doesn’t have the vocal range and cues to imply that’s the case. To me, it’s just a bitter break-up song where he tries to play it cool and just looks like a jerk in the process.

    I can’t stand songs like that in general. Therefore, it likely explains why I feel the way I do about the lyrics in “Jim & Jack & Hank” but haven’t yet heard any other reviewer echo what I’m saying.

    Again, the production and Jackson’s vocals are great to hear, and what keep this from being a total blank (couldn’t resist! ;) )

  8. I think you are reading into the sexist angle way too much. A man, most likely, will talk to his father about his breakup.

    It is a song from the perspective of a broken-hearted man. He isn’t going to be thinking rationally or neither will he be sympathetic to her viewpoint. His viewing of her as a possession seeker smacks of realism. He is trying to cover up his broken heart. These types of break up songs aren’t going to play fair and that is ok.

  9. I understand that and, as I was reading the lyrics on paper without listening to the song as well, I was considering much of what you said.

    Still, the framing still feels off to me. One can make the exact same case about “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” where one argues that Swindell clearly isn’t over her and is just in abject denial. But that was still an ugly song to listen to regardless of the lens you’re looking through.

    Otherwise, Jackson could have interpreted this better to signal by the end that he’s singing this with a wink. I don’t sense that.

  10. Oh, Swindell saying she ain’t worth the whiskey is 100% meant to be macho posturing while he drinks away his heartbreak. It boggles my mind that anyone thinks otherwise.

    It’s not a good song, the melody, production and Swindell’s voice are terrible, and there are better songs about it, that actually work as songs, but the content really isn’t that objectionable.

  11. Noah,
    Far be it from me to agree with CountryKnight, but I think you’re interpreting this song way too seriously/harshly.

    I don’t think that it’s a problem that females aren’t named in this song. There’s really no reason for it. As was mentioned, it makes sense that he’d call his father and that his father would give him the classic “You’re better off without her” speech. Also, Jim and Jack aren’t even people, but rather alcoholic beverages, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. So, so it makes sense in the context of a break up song, that he’d be using alcohol and sad country music (Hank Williams) to get through it.

    As far as blank being used, I took it as possibly being either scenario that you suggested and think that both are fine, even amusing, for a break up song.

    Finally, based on the melody/production and the silly lyrics, I don’t think that the tone of the song is meant to be dark or serious, but rather, fun and a little ridiculous.

  12. Are my opinions and views that toxic to agree with as to warrant a disclaimer?


    That was a beautiful defense, very well-written and articulated and you touched on some points I missed.

    This song reminds me of a “Long Way to Go”, a previous single of Jackson’s. It is plainly over the top, which adds to the charm.

  13. I have, but honestly, I have never thought I approached a level of disagreement worthy of a radical that any acknowledgement required explanation, but that is ok. I was born a contrarian and I will die a contrarian. :)

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