Gone Country Alan Jackson

“I hear down there, it’s changed, you see. They’re not as backward as they used to be.”

“Gone Country” is a snapshot of country music at the peak of the boom years, when forces within the music industry and larger shifts in the social landscape of America coalesced to launch country music from its long-suffering redheaded stepchild status into a billion dollar business.

Penned by Bob McDill, a pop songwriter who’d gone country himself many years earlier, the song’s sing-along chorus lends itself to “Born in the U.S.A.” syndrome. Many sang along without realizing that it was actually an indictment of musical artists who manipulatively decided to go country, rather than a celebration of the explosive new audience that had embraced the format in the early nineties.

Who but Alan Jackson could have delivered it so masterfully? Even during the hat act years, when every young new buck was falling over himself to declare his affinity for Haggard and Jones, Alan Jackson stood out as the real deal. But despite his staunch traditionalism and reverence for the genre’s greats, he still skillfully incorporated fifties rock, sixties pop and seventies rock into his sound, which is why he could cover “Tequila Sunrise” just as credibly as “A Good Year for the Roses.”

The man singing the song had reached mega-superstardom, selling more copies of one album than many of his heroes had sold of their entire catalog. Even as he played the cocked-eyebrow guardian of the genre, looking at these carpetbaggers with disdain-laced suspicion, he also knew that the gold rush that was calling their names had made him successful beyond his wildest dreams.

So while there’s a whiff of condescension toward the Vegas singer going “back to her roots”, the folkie who thought “some of that stuff don’t sound much different than Dylan”, and the pop executive who was sure he’d “be back in the money in no time at all”, his confident air throughout the song was a reminder that all of their perceptions were based in truth.

Nineties country really did share some roots with the pop and rock music that lounge singers would belt out in Vegas. Mary Chapin Carpenter, a folkie if there ever was one, was selling multi-platinum and dominating the award show circuit. And while pop music was at its lowest nadir, languishing in the shadows of both grunge rock and hip-hop, country radio was the only place on the radio dial where bright production and lyrical emphasis could be found.

It was a golden moment in the genre’s history, the first and last time when country dominated the entire American musical landscape without having to compromise its own identity to capture the interest of the crossover audience. They made smart, contemporary music that acknowledged and built upon the genre’s rich legacy, and the audience came to them.

These days, of course, they’re as backward as they’ve ever been. Hillbilly pride songs compete for airtime with songs so blatantly pop that they don’t even need remixing for pop and AC airplay. But “Gone Country” is a beautiful snapshot of a time when the genre had risen to the top of the music scene, simply on the twin strengths of authenticity and artistry.

Arista Nashville Gone Country
Digital Music Track (Arista Nashville)

Of Great and Mortal Men

2009-03-10 14:36:22 by leviplaysmusic

I remember hearing early in 2008 (or even late 2007) about this album that some madmen had written with a song for every U.S. President, called Of Great and Mortal Men. It was supposed to come out election day, 2008. Then all that election madness happened and I got distracted by reality for a while. Apparently it did come out, as I discovered when I remembered its existence the other day and did a little digging.
Even better, the bonus 44th song was released as promised, and is available as a free download from the site:

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Good Morning!  — KWTX
Country singer Alan Jackson is 55. Movie critic Richard Roeper is 54. Movie director Rob Marshall is 53. Actor Grant Shaud is 53. Animator Mike Judge is 51. Rock singer-musician Fred LeBlanc (Cowboy Mouth) is 50. Actor-comedian Norm Macdonald is 50.

Today in History, Oct. 17  — Waterbury Republican American
Country singer Alan Jackson is 55. Movie critic Richard Roeper is 54. Movie director Rob Marshall is 53. Actor Grant Shaud is 53. Animator Mike Judge is 51. Rock singer-musician Fred LeBlanc (Cowboy Mouth) is 50. Actor-comedian Norm Macdonald is 50.

Black Tie Ski Rentals Save Travelers Time & Money  — Ski Channel
“The idea dawned on us after country singer Alan Jackson requested an in-room fitting while visiting Steamboat more than 10 years ago,” said Prichard in a recent press release. “We realized we could provide the same convenient service to the skiing ..

Taylor Pub Alan Jackson: Gone Country
Book (Taylor Pub)
Sheet Music Sheet Music 1994 Gone Country Alan Jackson 265
Single Detail Page Misc (Sheet Music)
Tency Music Gone Country (Karaoke Version With Backing Vocals) [Originally Performed By Alan Jackson]
Digital Music Track (Tency Music)

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