Jo Dee Messina
Written by Phil Vassar
#1 (3 weeks)
August 22 – September 5, 1998
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
August 21, 1998
Jo Dee Messina nails another Phil Vassar composition.
The Road to No. 1
Jo Dee Messina’s second album, I’m Alright, got off to a strong start with its No. 1 lead single, “Bye Bye.” The next two releases followed it to the top.
The No. 1
The first four releases from I’m Alright are among the best single runs in country music history. We’re talking King’s Record Shop and No Fences-level excellence here.
“I’m Alright” is my personal pick for the best of the four. It’s an even more difficult lyric to deliver than “Bye Bye,” yet Messina does so effortlessly: “Been singin’ for my rent and singin’ for my supper, I’m above the below and below the upper, I’m stuck in the middle where money gets tight, but I guess I’m doin’ alright.”
The hooks made it a radio staple back in the day. I think what made the song a classic is a bit deeper than it just being a catch song sung well.
We don’t get a lot of songs about friendships, and “I’m Alright” captures a certain kind of friendship. We have these friends when we’re young – high school and college age – that we dream our dreams with. We talk with them about all the big things that we’re going to do, and we encourage their hopes and long term goals while we cultivate our own.
Then we lose track with them over time. Calls become less frequent, hang outs become weekly, then monthly, until finally they’re a thing of the past.
What a joyous and rare occasion it is to run into one of those old friends, get to catch up with them, and learn that they’re doing well and get to share that you’re doing alright, too. In a song about an aspiring musician hoping to make it big, it’s the friendly reunion that is the most aspirational and optimistic.
Hello to all of those old friends of mine that I haven’t seen or heard from in so long. I’m doing alright, and I hope you are, too.
The Road From No. 1
Another multi-week No. 1 is on its way from I’m Alright. We’ll cover it in early 1999.
“I’m Alright” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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This song is my all time favorite feel good song ever. Every time I hear it it immediately puts a smile on my face and good mood. All the players on the song deserve praise as well so many memorable parts.
There’s something about a dobro-steel guitar combo that just works so well in songs. Agreed with Tyler, this is also my all-time good feelings song.
I have to echo Tyler and CJ that this is one of my all time favorite feel good songs! This song totally screams Summer of 1998 for me, and it brings back wonderful memories from that time.
This song is just pure joy from beginning to end! I love the bright and uplifting melody, the bouncy beat, and Jo Dee’s joyful and impressive delivery of the rapid fire lyrics. Even the steel guitar and dobro really add to the happy and sunny feel of the record. My favorite part, though, has always been the chorus, which is insanely catchy and still never fails to make me smile and put me in a better mood. :) I’ve always dug that “I’ma ma ma ma malright!” part near the end with her growl, as well. It’s simply the perfect song to listen to while taking a walk outside on a beautiful day.
I always enjoyed the video whenever it came on GAC when it was brand new, as well. I still think the little red headed girl who plays the younger Jo Dee is so cute! I also like Jo Dee’s dance moves throughout the clip, and you definitely know it’s the late 90’s with those nice leather pants she’s sporting.
This is yet another song that instantly takes me back to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania trip that my mom, dad, and I went on right after I finished 6th grade and summer break started. As I mentioned in a few other entries, it was the first time we stayed in that area for more than one night, and I just had so much fun with my parents during that time. I heard “I’m Alright” in the backseat of the car on several occasions while we were cruising around Lancaster, and it was definitely one of my theme songs at the time! :) I remember loving it instantly each time I heard it, especially that joyful chorus. In fact, both this and Martina McBride’s “Happy Girl” were two of my latest favorites at the time that perfectly described how I was feeling during that trip. I was most definitely a happy girl and was doing very much alright all throughout that vacation and the rest of the Summer of 1998, and I just really miss those times so much!
Luckily, “I’m Alright” was another one of the singles off this album that remained a strong recurrent going into the early-mid 2000’s. By the mid 00’s I was wanting to collect as many late 90’s country albums I could find, and my dad and I actually had to put in an order for Jo Dee’s I’m Alright album at our Borders Bookstore because it was so hard to find in most other stores. As soon as we got the cd and popped it into the cd player of my dad’s car, we were both really enjoying the title track as soon as it came on, with my dad singing along. :)
I never had too many close friends while in school, but I did get to meet up with a friend of mine I’ve known since 7th grade a couple years ago shortly before covid happened. Neither one of us were exactly “alright” as we both had recently suffered terrible losses and were going through other storms of life. All the same, it was wonderful for us to get to see one another after so many years, and we bonded over the hard stuff we’ve been going through, both of us still not feeling like adults, and reminiscing about our times in school and other classmates we knew. Plus, it was great just getting to know one another again. :)
My personal favorite single from this album is the next Jo Dee Messina entry coming up.
I’ve only recently seen the video, though I’ve loved the song since I first heard it and I have to agree with you about the little red-haired girl who plays the younger Jo Dee, Jamie, she is very cute.
Messina handled Vassar’s lyrics better than he did himself as a recording artist. This song is both relatable and believable. It is utterly genuine and sincere. I consider this song a classic from late in the decade.