“Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
November 23, 1990
Alan Jackson’s third No. 1 hit of 1990 is a celebration of a dream as it’s becoming a reality.
The Road to No. 1
While his first Billboard No. 1 remained elusive, Jackson had topped the Radio & Records chart twice already in 1990 with “Here in the Real World” and “Wanted.” For the fourth single from his debut album, Arista chose an uptempo autobiographical number.
The No. 1
Ever notice how some of Alan Jackson’s very best singles – “Chattahoochee,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” “Remember When,” “Small Town Southern Man” – are his most autobiographical?
“Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” is one of the best “I wanna be a country star” hits ever written, capturing Jackson’s struggles, motivations, and inspirations and partnering them with indelible country music imagery and a killer hook.
Daddy won a radio,
He tuned it to a country show.
I was rockin’ in the cradle
To the cryin’ of a steel guitar.
Mama used to sing to me.
She taught me that sweet harmony.
Now she worries cause never thought
I’d ever really take it this far.
Singin’ in the bars
By the first time the chorus kicks in, you’re not only singing along with him. You’re 100% rooting for him, buying into the young artist’s dream of country music stardom.
If it was infectious and endearing upon release, it’s even more so in retrospect, knowing that this particular dreamer would develop into the finest male country artist of his generation.
The Road From No. 1
We’ve got one more No. 1 single from Here in the Real World on its way in 1991, and this time, Billboard will finally join the party.
“Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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Strange that it took Billboard so long to warm up to Alan Jackson, I know the local radio top forties in Florida were zooming his singles to the top. Even “Blue Blooded Woman” cracked the top twenty charts and it did next to nothing nationally
It was just bad timing. Jackson kept getting stuck behind long-running No. 1 hits. There would be many, many No. 2 records down the line that got stuck behind Alan Jackson’s long-running No. 1 hits, so it all worked out in the end!
…”seen a lot of guys come through here – you got something.” how right that bartender in the video was – and it still holds true.
This is definitely my favorite of his autobiographical singles. It’s also one of the very first AJ songs I remember really liking when it came on the radio when I was little and most likely the reason why my parents got me his Here In The Real World album on cassette. Unfortunately, the original copy ended up getting messed up, but not before I recorded it onto another tape in 1992.
Watching the video, I’m reminded of the cool trend in 90’s country music videos in which a previous hit single or an unreleased album track from the artist (in this case the still yet to be released “I’d Love You All Over Again”) would be playing in the background on the radio or jukebox right before the main song starts. Always thought that was pretty neat! And yeah, that bartender in the end sure knew what he was talking about…
Also never realized that Billboard took so long to grant him his first number one. I actually really miss Radio & Records and the countdown shows that would feature that chart instead of Billboard.
This song is another example of being able to watch a young artist’s dream come true in the moment as chase becomes celebration of having grabbed the brass ring.
The level of detail packed into this great song would become the hallmark of Jackson’s best songwriting, a haiku like minimalism.
All these year’s later, this song still sounds live to me, just like Tritt’s “I’m Gonna’ Be Somebody.” The excitement, ambition, and yearning still ring true.
As a teenage fan, sharing in the energy of these artist’s success was intoxicating. Country music was happening.
Looking back through this feature allows me to reflect on what it was like when, if only for a little while, country took the throne.
Another classic. AJ was at his best when he writes autobiographically.
Such a great song and still one of my favorites of his!
I always think back to the song’s video, at the end where the bartender’s asking him his name, and he responds with…”Jackson, Alan Jackson”…and the bartender gives him all this praise. Even though it’s a video, and it’s all scripted…the end of that video makes you feel great for him, just due to everything he mentions in the song and how good it is. He could’ve never had another hit, and I probably would’ve had a soft spot for the guy due to that song/video….and thankfully, that wasn’t the case.