Written by Bob McDill
#1 (1 week)
January 28, 1995
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
January 13, 1995
Alan Jackson’s long history of bemoaning country music interlopers begins here.
The Road to No. 1
A string of four consecutive No. 1 singles comes to a close, as the third release from Who I Am tops both charts.
The No. 1
Let me establish immediately that I love this song. I think it’s a hilarious takedown of those looking to capitalize on the nineties country boom, despite having no commitment at all to country music itself.
I also love the layers of irony embedded in the song and the record. Songwriter Bob McDill was an interloper himself, starting his career as a pop songwriter and moving to Nashville when work in that field started to dry up.
The record itself is awash in pop and rock sounds as well. Much like George Jones was always deified as a pure country traditionalist despite having enough strings on his records to make Frank Sinatra blush, Alan Jackson’s positioning as a guardian of country music’s tradition has always given him a free pass to throw some fiddle and steel on a rock and roll track and still be hailed as the second coming of Merle Haggard.
Jackson’s self-proclaimed right to decide who gets included and who gets excluded from country music has grown increasingly strident over the years, and these days seems to be more defined by how much people look and think like him, rather than anything to do with the sound of their records.
But his point was astute, witty, and ultimately inclusive of the new out-of-towners back in 1995, to the point that when NYC country station WYNY had listeners vote on their favorite country songs of all-time, “Gone Country” came in at No. 1.
Those were the days.
The Road From No. 1
Jackson’s exquisite cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Song For the Life” went top ten, and Jackson then returned to the top with the fifth and final single from Who I Am. We’ll get there later in 1995.
“Gone Country” gets an A.
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