INTERVIEW: Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson:
Number One Party For A Small Town Southern Man by Bev Moser

Recently, ASCAP held a #1 party for Alan Jackson's "Small Town Southern Man." During the party, Alan sat down with media and talked about the song. Bev Moser of Music News Nashville was on hand to participate in the Q&A
Q: Your good buddy George Strait just celebrated 56 number one hits and he said for him it never gets old and that the last one was just as great as the 1st one, can you talk about for you and your career, especially for songs you don’t even anticipate even being hits that you write just for your own pleasure and amusement? Talk about that feeling; is it still the same as it was? Alan: Well I don’t think it will ever be as exciting as the first song; I don’t care what you say. Your first single is totally different. Your first #1 especially. I think people like George and myself have been around for so long that it is really just more of a privilege for us to still be on the charts at this point in our careers. So that said, it is almost more meaningful than some of the others in the past. Q: With these autobiographical songs or elements in these songs that you have written can you talk a little about the album and the songwriting and how they came to be? Alan: Well some of these songs have some autobiographical lyrics in them, and some are just things you make up. It is pretty standard country music is how I would describe it. There is everything on there from life and love and dying and just getting by to a song about Jesus, so this album covers just about everything in the spectrum of country music. Even bologna sandwiches. Q: Good Time is your new country single, and the title cut on the album, what constitutes a good time for Alan Jackson? Alan: Well ya know, I have a lot of different interests. Like some of the lyrics in the song, I like to have a drink or two and have a good time out on the evening, but being a married man with a family sometimes Denise and I are lucky just to be able to get out by ourselves to a restaurant. Other than that, I am outside all the time, water is my favorite place and I enjoy staying on the lake or river or the ocean. Q: This album is somewhat a return to traditional Alan Jackson sounding music, how does it feel to have so much trademark success with this again?Alan: Well we really never left it. The thing with Allison Krauss was a special project and was not intended to be a change in direction or anything, and this was our first studio album in several years. I guess the gospel album just kind of jumped out there, on its own and took up a little time, as did the Allison project. When we got ready to make another album it was really nothing different than it had been my whole career. It was like being on cruise control and we just put it all right back into that.Q: You and Denise are heading back to Noonan tomorrow – can you tell us what that is for and being honored in your home town and what that means to you? Alan: Yeah, we are going to Noonan, GA, Coward County, they have started a tradition of recognizing people from that area that have contributed something to the Arts or something and from how I understand it, I am not exactly sure, but I guess because of my music career and her book that we qualified to be recognized. There is also an author from the area who will be honored. Q: Can you talk about returning to CMA Music Fest every year and the importance of that? Alan: Well I have been doing it for pretty much every year as long as I can remember. I do not go sign autographs like I did in the early years, but I always play the concert. It is one of the easiest things I can do for my fans because I live here and I am usually around. People who have been faithful to that event travel from all over the country and it is a vacation for them and it is the best thing I can do. No reason not to do it. Q: Alan can you talk about the project that Bob Dillon contacted you about finishing the songs that Hank Williams started? Alan: This is a project he is putting together that they had lyrics that Hank Williams had started and not been put to music or recorded. They asked artists from all genres to pick a set of lyrics and finish writing them if needed be and then put a melody to it. I recorded mine over a year ago. It was really cool to be able to do that. I have not heard when it is supposed to be done or released. I do know there were a lot of great artists involved in it. Q: Has it sunk in that you are the most nominated CMA artist that anyone else in the industry? Alan: well there is no doubt I have been very lucky at the awards shows over the years and I remember the day when I would be nominated five times and leave with nothing and everyone would always say, next year is your year, so every year I am still included I am privileged to still be included after all this time. Q: Was it your idea to lead off with Small Town Southern Man?Alan: No, I wanted to come out with Good Time. I think since Five O’clock Somewhere, my songs have been, Remember When and then the gospel thing and felt like I needed something more up-tempo and fun, but the label wanted Southern Man. Looking back it was a good choice, because it was winter time and more typical of what people expected of me. Q: Alan, with Mothers Day coming up, can you talk a little bit about Denise and her success as an author and how with your daughters how has it been to have her in the limelight and you step back a little bit? Alan: I think it has been great for them to see her do something out there that is not typical for a parent. She is a great role model for them anyway and always has been, so I think they were surprised but know that it was very special for her to do that. Q: Are your songs pitched to anyone else or do you simply record your own?Alan: I do not sit down and write everyday. When it comes time for an album, I usually start scrambling and putting things together. BMI has my publishing catalog, but I never turn anything in so they do not have anything to pitch. I have a bunch in the catalog that are good. A couple I keep dragging out thinking I will record but just never do. I guess if I wrote anything I thought would fit someone else that I knew I was not going to sing, I would be happy to pitch it to them.Q: Alan, following that same line was Small Town Southern Man written for this album or was it something you had been sitting on for awhile? Alan: No, all of this stuff was brand new except for one I wrote last summer. Most all of it is brand new. Q: The new song seems to be quite a tongue twister. Can you talk a bit about working it up for the live show and was it a challenge to perform live? AJ - The first time we started to play it I thought I did not know if I could get those words out, but after you play it a few times it comes pretty natural. I always thought it would make a good contest on the radio to make people say that line, I have been working all week, I am tired and I don’t want to sleep, I want to have fun, it’s time for a good time. It is like the line two all beef patties, lettuce, special sauce, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!
(reprinted with permission Music News Nashville)

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