Written by Alan Jackson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
June 28, 1996
A cut from Alan Jackson’s earliest Arista sessions gets an overdue shot at radio airplay.
The Road to No. 1
The promotional pitch for The Greatest Hits Collection was “20 Songs. 16 No. 1 hits. One that should’ve been. Three that will be.” Following “Tall, Tall Trees” and “I’ll Try,” the chart-topping success of “Home” fulfilled the prophecy of that very confident marketing slogan.
The No. 1
Seven years after Alan Jackson went into the studio from June 26-June 27, 1989 to record his debut Arista album, one of those songs achieved what four other songs from those sessions had done years earlier, making Here in the Real World the first and currently the only Alan Jackson album to produce five No. 1 hits.
“Home” treads common ground for material on debut country albums. Many new artists want to make sure that their potential audience knows where they came from and how they value their roots. Some of these are a bit on the nose, like Gretchen Wilson’s “Pocahontas Proud” and Carrie Underwood’s “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore.” Others capture the feelings of the family home more than the town itself, like Alan Jackson’s “Home” and the Joe Diffie hit of the same name, the latter of which discouraged Arista from releasing the former to radio in 1990.
Fact is, they’re both classic records and there was probably enough room on the radio for both of them at that time. But how refreshing it was to hear a young, pre-stardom Alan Jackson on the radio again, sounding noticeably younger than he did on the other two single releases from The Greatest Hits Collection.
Like the best songs of this kind, his lyric is specific enough to be about his unique experience growing up, but the emotions it taps into are universal, and can make anyone with positive childhood memories of a family home feel warm with nostalgia.
The Road From No. 1
The lead single from Everything I Love is up next, and it taps into the catalog of fellow future Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall. We’ll cover it before the end of 1996.
“Home” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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As I have mentioned here before, Alan Jackson’s debut album, Here In The Real World, was one of the earliest albums I remember my parents buying for me on cassette when I was only about six in 1991. “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” is one of the earliest songs I remember always enjoying from him on the radio, so that was likely one of the reasons why they got it for me, other than the fact that I was already showing a strong love for country music in general at such an early age. I remember playing the tape often back then, but unfortunately by 1992, it somehow ended up getting messed up and was no longer playable. Lucky for me though, I already knew how to make copies of cassettes on the stereo, and I recorded it on to a blank tape before the original was ruined.
When I first started hearing “Home” on the radio in 1996, I just KNEW it sounded familiar, and I always had the sense that I’d heard it before a long time ago. Plus, the overall sound of the record was noticeably “older” sounding than the rest of the new songs on the radio at the time. I always really liked hearing it, though. This whole concept of going back and releasing older tracks many years after it’s original release was completely new to me then, so I was a bit confused. Like, was this an older AJ song that I somehow never heard on the radio until just now? Well, one day I just randomly decided to revisit my Here In The Real World tape after not having played it in quite a long time. What I did back in ’92 was record both sides on to one side of a blank 90 minute tape. But without realizing it, I recorded side B first and THEN side A second, so my cassette version of the album started with “She Don’t Get The Blues” instead of “Ace Of Hearts.” So four songs in while revisiting the tape, as soon as “Home” started, I was like “Wait a minute…” and as soon as it got to the chorus with Alan singing “and they made their house from a tool shed…” I suddenly got excited and that was my “Ah Ha!!” moment when I finally realized that I had indeed heard the song before and I had it after all this time. It was also really cool to know that I already had the song available for me to listen to whenever I wanted. As I was listening to the rest of the tape I also got to rediscover other AJ classics I hadn’t heard on the radio in quite a while like “Wanted,” “Here In The Real World,” and “I’d Love You All Over Again.” :)
This song was also one of my Dad’s favorites, who was always a big Alan Jackson fan throughout the 90’s and early 00’s. I remember every time it came on the radio while in the car with him, he’d always enthusiastically sing along to the chorus word for word : “And they made their house from a tool shed. Grandaddy rolled down on two logs!” That line actually always put a funny image in my mind as a kid, as I pictured the grandaddy literally running down the hill after two big logs, lol. It remained one of Dad’s favorites in more recent years, as well.
I also remember seeing Alan perform it on the 1996 ACM Awards as both my dad and step dad were watching along with me on the TV downstairs. I also vividly remember seeing Alabama come on in another part of the show to perform “It Works,” which they both seemed to enjoy, as well. :)
I did also end up recording “Home” from the radio later in the Summer of ’96 on the tape I mentioned in Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria.” It was actually part of a “Double Play” in which you heard an artist’s current single followed by a classic hit from the same artist. In this case, it actually ended up technically being two older AJ songs in a row with “Home” first and then “Love’s Got A Hold On You.” It was also around this time that I remember hearing this song coming from one of the car radios on display while we were in Wal-Mart one day, with some other kids playing around with them.
Overall, it’s still one of my favorite AJ songs to this day, and I don’t think I’ve heard a more beautiful, heartfelt tribute to one’s parents and childhood home than this song. It actually still gets me teary eyed every now and then, especially knowing that his parents are no longer around. I’ve actually seen more recent videos of him doing this song, and well…needless to say it’s not an easy one for him to get through these days. I also just love the typical early 90’s neo-traditional production of it. Even the electric guitar part that ends the song is very pretty and full of heart. Simply a beautiful record from start to finish!
I really wish more artists have released “should have been singles” years after the fact. The other time I really got excited about it happening was when Garth Brooks finally released “Wild Horses” as a single ten years after No Fences came out. :)