by Marcus K. Dowling
Alan Jackson’s forthcoming album Where Have You Gone is expected to highlight a few bittersweet notes for the veteran legend. “I just feel like [country music’s roots are] fading away,” he notes in a recent Tennessean interview. “It’s always been up and down but usually there’s just a little bit of it hanging on. Now I just feel like it’s getting further and further away, and it’s makin’ me sad,” he continues. However, for as much as his recent output is a roots reclamation project, he still saves some room for some unique “modern” inspirations.
“I pick up crazy ideas from my kids and their friends hanging out,” Jackson noted. “They’re all grown and they’ll be drinkin’ or something…[Someone] said one night that ‘It’s beer:10, whiskey:30’ and I said, ‘Sounds like a song to me.’” “Beer:10″ joins tracks like “Back,” where the performer known for “Chattahoochee” sings, “I’m bringing country back/Back where it belongs, back on track/ I think ‘ole Hank would like it like that,” which fit the previously mentioned timeless expectation of the release. “I don’t have to worry about coming up with something for radio. I can just do whatever I want to do. Songs that I feel like fans would like,” he adds.
As far as wanting to see the icon live, he says he’s “about half-retired, anyway,” but still holds a warm space in his heart for the stage. “I ain’t gonna lie to you, it gets old going out there, travelin’. But when you walk out there and people are standing on their feet and singing just about every word to all my songs — happy and holding up a beer one minute, crying the next – it makes me feel like I’ve made some music [that’s] really touched people.”