|PREVIEW: Alan Jackson
Aw, shucks, underneath that Stetson Rancher hat stands a humble, genuine
country music star.
You can't tune in a country music radio station anywhere without hearing an Alan Jackson hit.
Radio still banks on early ones like "Here in the Real World," the honky-tonk rollick of "Don't
Rock the Jukebox," "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow," and "Chattahoochee," and can't get enough of
his new hits "It Must Be Love," and "www.memory." The hits just keep coming.
Sure, Jackson's level of fame allows him to be a shill for Ford trucks (and let's not quibble
that the jingle he sang originally was about a Mercury, not a Ford). But the 6-foot-4
blonde-haired, blue-eyed Georgian, in trademark T-shirt and tight Wranglers cuts just the
right figure of country wholesomeness. Ford Country indeed. Jackson might well be the
spokesman for the whole of country music.
In an industry that only seems to require a hat, a drawl, and radio-friendly song of
family values, heartbreak or barrooms, Jackson is the real deal. Nine of his albums have
gone platinum or better. He's copped over 60 major music awards, has over 27 no. 1 hits,
and sold something in excess of 27 million records since he started running with the big
dogs in 1990. Every year, he sells more records, puts together bigger shows, and continues
his stronghold on country music.
But this is a guy who loves to fish, who collects Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and
claims his favorite ride (and we swear we're not making this up), is around Oregon's
Crater Lake. He's been married to only one woman since 1979, has three daughters
he adores, and was quoted recently as saying "Of all the things I've done, places I've
been and awards I've won over the past few years, I still get more excited when I sit
on the bus and write a good song."
Aw, shucks, and amen.
Jackson's new CD, "When Somebody Love You," his 10th for Arista/Nashville, is simply
more of the same - modest, resonant country music plied with a journeyman's sure hand,
and sung with conviction. Even the first hit, "www.memory," which runs the risk of
being cute, trite and too modern, is instead a sweet song of longing. One might think that
singing "Just click on me/at www.memory" would sound corny, but wrapped up in Jackson's
supple country voice, it sounds wholesome and natural.
This project is the follow-up to "Under the Influence," a collection of country standards
that managed to bypass commercial trends and compliment them at the same time. It earned
him a top-five hit ("Pop A Top") and no. 1 single "It Must Be Love."
Jackson's has been a storied career. His wife and high-school sweetheart Denise was a
flight attendant who happened to meet Glen Campbell in an airport in 1985. She told him
about her songwriting husband and he gave her a business card for his publishing company.
A few months later, the Jackson family moved to Nashville, where Jackson got his record
deal and the rest is history.
Jackson's first major hit - the heartfelt ballad "Here in the Real World" - hit the
airwaves Jan.13, 1990, and he hasn't looked back. He's had the same producer,
Keith Stegall, who helped him fashion his first demo tapes. "We go way back," Jackson said
in Country Week. "He's the guy that recorded the first material on me that helped me
get my record deal."
Stegall apparently did everything right. Over the course of some 17 albums, including
the new one, he's stayed true to his heartfelt honky-tonk sound. No bells, no whistles,
no temptation to wander too far afield from the simple roots of country music. He leans
on his heroes for inspiration -- George Jones, Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., Merle Haggard,
George Strait, John Conlee, John Anderson and Gene Watson.
Jackson brings a long-haul truckload of those tunes to Portland's Rose Garden tonight,
with up-and-comer Brad Paisley opening the show. A little honest honky-tonkin' might be a
good chaser to Tuesday's election. Maybe we should have nominated the lanky Georgian who
tells it like it is.
WHO: Alan Jackson
WHERE: Rose Garden Arena
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 10; 8 p.m.
OPENING: Brad Paisley
TICKETS: Ticketmaster (charge-by-phone at 503-224-4400,
online at www.ticketmaster.com) and Rose Garden box office (503-797-9619), $31.50.