Alan Jackson cowboys up for an outdoor
August 14, 2008
Alan Jackson’s leather boots, big hat and worn jeans conjure up thoughts of a working ranch ” a loyal pony and campfire coffee ” but make no mistake, this cowboy’s natural habitat is performing on stage. And at this point in his career, the 49-year-old Jackson’s mantel s getting a bit overloaded with proof of his popularity.
The country singer-songwriter has earned more than 90 awards, and he’s currently on tour promoting his latest album, “Good Time.” The album has 17 tracks ” long, by today’s standards ” all of which Jackson wrote himself. In early August, after 16 weeks on the Billboard country charts, “Good Time” ” the second release off the CD ” was still holding the No. 1 singles spot.
Jackson and his band, the Strayhorns, will swing by Harvey’s Outdoor Concert arena on Aug. 15, for an evening also featuring Lee Ann Womack.
The lanky star has stuck by his guns, keeping his traditional brand of country dedicated to its roots. The Georgia native channels Hank Williams Jr. and George Jones when much of country has leaned more toward pop and rock. Simple, straightforward lyrics that draw on Jackson’s unpretentious Southern background.
Jackson has sold more than 50 million albums and 33 No. 1 singles ” more than 20 that he’s written or co-authored.
Songs like “Chattahoochee,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” (a duet with Jimmy Buffet), and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning),” his poignant tribute to the 9/11 attacks, quickly rose to popularity on the country charts, and even brought him a Grammy award in 2002.
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This doesn’t mean he’s forgotten the simple recipe for enjoying life.
“I guess I felt like I needed something that wasn’t entirely a big, heavy album,” Jackson says on his Web site. “You know, I felt like I wanted something that had some fun on it, because when I play in concert people still want to hear songs like ‘Chattahoochee’ and ‘Don’t Rock the Jukebox’ ” all those are a big part of our success too, as well as the big ballads. That’s why I wanted to call it ‘Good Time,’ even though the whole album’s not a bunch of party songs.”
As reported July 27 in a review by the Orange County Register, the set list for Jackson’s concert tour reads like a best-of, which includes “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Like Red on a Rose,” “Where Were You,” “Livin’ On Love,” “Small Town Southern Man,” “Where I Come From,” “Remember When,” and of course, “Good Time”: “Workin’ all week, and I’m tired and I don’t want to sleep and I wanna have fun/ It’s time for a good time … “
With “Good Time,” Jackson says, “(Producer) Keith (Stegall) and I just wanted to go in there and have fun making a record. My life is very wonderful, and I’m happy, and I think a lot of that reflects on my songwriting now. It’s a good place. I don’t feel like I need to prove or earn anything. I just want to make good music that I like and that I feel like people who buy my records might like. That’s the bottom line, right there.”
Lee Ann Womack is much more a co-headliner than merely an opening act. In a little more than a decade , the blonde Texan-turned-Tennessean has won more than 17 awards, ranging from Grammys to Country Music Association to Billboard chart gold. Womack’s best-known song, “I Hope You Dance,” won eight awards on its own in 2000; “There’s More Where That Came From,” her most recent album in 2005 won CMA’s Album of the Year.
After a three-year hiatus, the singer-songwriter has recently been back in the studio, with her newest CD due out in October. “Call Me Crazy” will feature duets with both country stars George Strait and Keith Urban. The last time Womack and Strait teamed up was for “Good News, Bad News,” which earned them a 2005 CMA award for Musical Event of the Year.
Womack took the past three years to spend time with her family and decide which musical path she would follow. Her heart lies in traditional country, but she’s seen the most success with pop country. “Call Me Crazy” will have 12 tracks, with four co-written by Womack.
The album’s first single, “Last Call,” has been climbing the country charts since its release in June. Typical of Womack’s penchant for wrenching lyrics, “Last Call” stirs up memories of heartbreak.
This spring, she told The Tennessean, “Certainly after you win Album of the Year, there’s going to be some pressure. I guess you put that on yourself, and I’m sure I’ve done that. I just don’t want to let anybody down. I’m just kind of getting my feet wet again; just trying to figure out where I fit in. Definitely I’m at a point in my life where I just want to be happy.”