The River's Badge

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rediscovery


My husband, who is not a country fan, mentioned the other day that somebody at work had the radio tuned to the country station, and he heard a song he really liked.

He asked, "Have you ever heard of someone named Alan Jackson?" ha ha ha

Well, yes! I believe I have!

For a country fan, that's akin to asking, "Have you ever heard of a group called the Rolling Stones?"

Let's travel back in time, shall we? If one remembers the 1970's in country music, she will admit that it was the worst of times (I'll leave out that part about "the best of times", because there wasn't much of that). What I remember about the seventies is Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell, and that's about it. A bunch of pop-country "stuff" (to be polite). Even poor Charley Pride was embarrassing himself, recording crummy throwaway songs. That was when I finally, reluctantly, twirled that radio dial over to the rock station. And I'm glad I did, because I really love the rock/pop music of the eighties. But that's neither here nor there.

I've mentioned before here that when I finally gave country music another chance in the eighties, I found out that I'd missed a bunch of stuff. There was some guy named George Strait, who was introduced to me by my parents, of all people! They'd bought a VHS tape of one of his concerts, and I was over visiting one night when they had the tape running. Reluctantly (to myself), I admitted that this guy was damn good. (I was a complete snob about country music at that time, much like now). So, I thought, hey, this guy is good; I wonder if there are any others out there. Right away, when I punched the button for the country station, I heard this one dude, Dwight Yoakam, who was doing some hillbilly rockin' country sort of thing.

The first cassette tape I bought, once I decided to give country another whirl (and yes, they were cassette tapes then), was by the Sweethearts of the Rodeo. I carried my boom box from room to room while I was cleaning, listening to that tape: "I'm a midnight girl in a sunset town". I thought I was kinda cool and avant-garde (idiot).

From there, it snowballed. I started watching CMT. I waved goodbye to Huey Lewis and the News. I'd now found Randy Travis.

In 1989, a trio of new singers debuted. One was named Garth Brooks, and he had some maudlin song about tomorrow never coming. In his video, he wore a black hat and a striped shirt, and strummed his guitar. I found it utterly boring, but for some reason, a bunch of people seemed to be overly excited about it.

Then there was this guy, Clint Black. He also wore a black hat, but he was singing about killing time. His songs had a recognizable beat; they weren't sappy pop. They were stone country. One could two-step to them.

The third guy had a debut that would be best forgotten. He was clearly uncomfortable "acting" in the video (special bonus: check out that HUGE cell phone!) The song, too, was, shall we say, under par. Check it out here:

(Or apparently not, since it seems to have been removed. Suffice it to say, it wasn't very good, or it would still be available for viewing).

I chalked him up as another flash in the pan. Good looking, nice voice, but bad song.

The next time I saw him, lo and behold, he had a song that captured my attention, every time that video came on. And this guy wore a WHITE hat. THIS TIME they didn't make him try to "act"; they just let him sing:



Had Alan only had "Blue Blooded Woman" in his arsenal, he would be back fixing cars in Georgia today. His record company made a huge misstep in releasing that song first. Fortuitously, he had "Real World" in his back pocket, and that is the song that cemented him as a star to watch. It's still one of the best country songs ever, in my opinion.

So, I was on the alert for new Jackson songs and videos, and he never disappointed. The next one that instantly springs to mind, for me, in chronological order, of course, is this one (but I'm a sucker for black and white):



You can't fault this one:



By 1982, Alan was WAY more comfortable in front of the camera. I liked this a lot:



As much as I liked "Chatahoochie", I LOVED this one (maybe my favorite):



All I can say is, YEE HAW.

That deadpan "yee haw" is one of the best lines ever uttered. It will live forever in the annals of country music. I've heard "yee haw" yelled and shouted, but before this video, I'd never heard it spoken in such a sad way. Perfect.

Alan (or his record company) apparently did not deign to film a music video for this song. Big mistake. Aside from "Rhythm and Blues", this is one of Alan Jackson's best songs, ever. Killer chorus.



The other thing I like about Alan Jackson is, he doesn't forget. He recorded an album, titled, "Under The Influence" (great title, by the way), in which he included songs from his bar gig days, and bless you, Alan Jackson, you recorded this Jim Ed Brown song. Campy, maybe. But to me (and to Alice, if you're listening from heaven), this was one of the coolest country songs from the sixties:



So, there are a bunch of Alan Jackson songs I could include here, but then, this post would go on forever. Let me just say, though, that here in the real world of the year 2011, Alan is still relevant. Here is the Zac Brown band, featuring ALAN JACKSON:



And yea, I guess if you are around long enough, they'll even include you in a commercial:



And, oh, by the way, THIS is the song that introduced my husband to Alan Jackson:



So, have I ever heard of Alan Jackson?

I do believe I have.

Yee haw.

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