“(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All”
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 25, 1994
Another stone cold country classic from Alan Jackson.
The Road to No. 1
After “Chattahoochee” lit the world on fire, Arista kept the beat going and released Jackson’s cover of “Mercury Blues,” which topped out at No. 2. They closed out the Little ‘Bout Love project with a ballad every bit as good as the earlier hit from the set, “Tonight I Climbed the Wall.”
The No. 1
It’s amazing to look back and realize how easy it was to take records like this for granted by 1994.
With everyone hopping on the New Country bandwagon, the charts were flush with traditional-sounding records sung with a twang by young guys in cowboy hats.
But as with any bandwagon, once time goes by and tastes change, it’s only the very best artists and records that stand the test of time.
With Alan Jackson, we had a radio artist who was every bit the singer-songwriter as the greats of previous generations, worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton.
“(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All” is as good as anything he ever did, with striking visual imagery – “A stark naked lightbulb hangs over my head” is the opening line – and misery-soaked self-deprecation.
Jackson never talked down to his audience, which is why he could deliver a line as majestic as “I’m lord and master of a fool’s Taj Mahal” shortly after rhyming “Chattahoochee” with “hoochie coochie.”
I may be on record about how miserable I found his most recent album, but listening to this again reminds me that my disappointment stems from the casual greatness that he embodied for the better part of three decades.
The Road From No. 1
He’s going to keep mining that dance mix vein for some time, so when we see Alan Jackson next, it will be with another revved up rock and roll oldies cover.
“(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All” gets an A.
Next: Little Texas, “My Love”