Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Alan Jackson, “I’ll Try”

“I’ll Try

Alan Jackson

Written by Alan Jackson


#1 (1 week)

March 9, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 23, 1996

Alan Jackson wants an A for effort.

The Road to No. 1

Jackson topped both charts with “Tall, Tall Trees,” the first single from The Greatest Hits Collection.  He repeated the feat with the hits compilation’s second release.

The No. 1

As a series of wedding vows, “I’ll Try” is clear-eyed and realistic, if not terribly encouraging for the relationship’s long-term success.

The conceit behind “I’ll Try” is grounded in truth.  Fact is, many marriages in America end in divorce, especially in southern and western states. “I’ll try to love only you, I’ll try my best to be true” are wedding vows more aligned with this reality than “I’m gonna love you forever and ever, amen.”

He sings it with the passion of someone who really wants to make things work but has messed up before and is nervous about making a promise that he cannot keep.

By 1996, Jackson was keeping himself to a higher standard than his contemporaries from the late eighties/early nineties wave of new traditionalists.  “I’ll Try” isn’t even one of his best singles from this time period, and it still compares favorably to anything on the radio at the time, especially the efforts of the traditional-leaning artists who were running out of ideas.

The Road From No. 1

The Here in the Real World album earns a belated fifth No. 1 single thanks to his next release, which we will cover soon.

“I’ll Try” gets a B+. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Garth Brooks, “The Beaches of Cheyenne”


  1. Simple, honest songs like this are what had us wondering if Jackson and Haggard could be mentioned in the same breath as early as 1996. Jackson basically signed the sincerity contract with his fans in blood because of songs like this.

  2. Alan Jackson has been pretty practical and blunt about love in his songs. Even “I’d Love You All Over Again” had a hint of trepidation in it. I love this song because of it’s honesty.

  3. Yet another one of my all time favorites from AJ! I echo all the other comments in appreciating that this is more of a “grounded in reality” type of love song. I actually remember reading the liner notes in his Greatest Hits Collection in which he described it as “a realistic approach to a positive love song.”

    I like how it acknowledges right off the bat that things haven’t always been perfect for the couple with lines like: “Both know damn well it’s not easy together” and “We’ve both felt love, and we’ve both felt pain” I also like how there’s even a bit of regret and sadness in Alan’s vocals when recalling the darker times in those opening verses. I just like how he’s singing this while knowing the road may get rocky every now and then, but he’s still going to try his danged well best to make it work. Perhaps this great line in the bridge, which is another one of my favorites, says it all best: “I’m not perfect, just another man. But I will give you all that I am.” It’s so refreshingly honest, and I love how genuine it sounds with Alan’s heartfelt performance.

    Sonically, I just love everything about it. For me, this is the first of the more “cleaner” sounding ballads that he’ll start doing in the late 90’s and afterwards, yet because it’s AJ, they’re still genuine straight ahead country. I especially love the main piano parts of this song and the gentle tones of the electric guitar throughout, which give the song a nice classy feel that perfectly matches the nice suit Alan is sporting on the cover of his Greatest Hits Collection. In fact the entire production of this record reminds me of the more smooth sounding cuts on many Keith Stegall produced albums of the late 90’s, including George Jones’ 1999 album The Cold Hard Truth and John Anderson’s 1997 effort, Takin’ The Country Back. It also has a nice warm, cozy feel to it, which made it a perfect winter release.

    Finally, I’ve always loved the way Alan sang the very last “I’ll tryyyyyyy” at the very end with the harmony vocals. It was such a nice way to end the song, imo.

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