“Livin’ On Love”
Written by Alan Jackson
#1 (3 weeks)
October 29 – November 12, 1994
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
October 28, 1994
Alan Jackson’s simple ode to love is among his finest recordings.
The Road to No. 1
Alan Jackson continued to dominate on radio with Who I Am, with four out of the five singles going No. 1, starting with “Summertime Blues” and continuing with “Livin’ On Love.”
The No. 1
Why has this been such an evergreen, remaining popular nearly thirty years after its original release?
Because it acknowledges that love is hard and that love is worth the effort.
“It sounds simple, that’s what you’re thinking. But love can walk through fire without blinking.”
The storyline follows the same beats as Kathy Mattea’s “Love at the Five and Dime” and “Where’ve You Been,” as well as Tanya Tucker’s “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane.”
He leaves out stillborn children, extramarital affairs with band members, third act dementia, and loan sharks knocking down the door, which makes the song less specific in its tale of love, but more universally applicable to listeners in any given stage of life and love.
Even someone as morbid as me can appreciate that.
The Road From No. 1
Jackson takes on Music City carpetbaggers with his next No. 1 single, which we will cover in early 1995.
“Livin’ On Love” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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I absolutely love this song, and it’s still one of my all time favorite AJ songs to this day, no matter how many times I’ve heard it by now. As soon as I hear that opening fiddle, I still get excited about hearing this classic.
And of course, there’s even more lovely fiddle sawing throughout the rest of the song, and as expected by now from a Jackson record, there’s some excellent steel playing from the always dependable Paul Franklin, as well. And when the two each have their turn on the instrumental break, it’s pure heaven to my ears. But not only do I love those two main instruments on this record, I also really dig that cool twangy guitar that’s heard right after the opening fiddle and throughout the rest of the track. Not to mention, the melody of the entire thing is both beautiful and insanely catchy. Simply put, if I were judging this just on sound alone, it would get an A+ from me, being the traditional country lover I am. But it also delivers lyrically, and I just love the timeless message about love being worth it, and the charming and funny little details describing both the young and old couples “livin’ on love.” Finally, Alan’s warm, sincere, and heartfelt delivery wraps it all up quite nicely. This one had very well earned its long shelf life on country radio, in my book!
Besides the next AJ number one that we’ll discuss in this feature, this is the other Jackson song that I remember hearing the most on the radio when I was getting back into country in the Summer of 1995, and I remember hearing it quite a few times on various occasions while I was riding in my dad’s car throughout that time. The first time I remember hearing and really enjoying it was when it was playing on the radio while my mom and I were riding with him, not long after we had seen the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. And for some weird reason, for a little while, I would always associate this song with that movie because of that timing, lol. On a different occasion afterwards when my dad and I were on our way to the bowling alley, it came on the radio again, and I remember both of us really enjoying it. He especially always liked the second verse of the song describing the elderly couple. When it was over, and after he’d parked the car and turned the radio off, he sang the lines: “He can’t see anymore, and she can barely sweep the floor!” As for me, I always really liked the “Love can walk through fire without blinking” line, which always stood out to me even during those earliest times I’d hear the song.
I would always enjoy hearing it whenever it would come on the radio throughout the late 90’s and early 00’s, as well. And for some reason, this is another song that always makes me think of Cracker Barrel, lol. Perhaps, it could be because I’ve actually heard it playing in a Cracker Barrel on at least a few occasions when my parents and I were visiting York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania during those times, lol.
An all time classic. I fell in love the first time I heard it.
Jackson nails all the sweet and adoring details in his lyrics with what feels like wonderful ease. The song is so accessible because the stages of love are so familiar and relatable. The progression of the couple’s relationship described in the song becomes a benchmark for any listener in love, it invites people to see themselves in the story Jackson tells. Young lovers can say, “That’s us!” People wanting to be in love can sing, like Shenandoah did a while back, “I want a love like that!” Longtime lovers can hope to age together with such charm and grace.
This is classic love song.