Alan Jackson is an icon in the country music industry, with a storied career that spans decades. A pillar of the traditional country sound, Jackson has sold countless albums and earned legions of fans with his feel-good and relatable offerings.
While Jackson and many of his contemporaries are still making music, their sound has been slowly edged out of mainstream country radio in favor of newer, pop-country artists, something Jackson noted in a recent interview with GQ.
"There’s some good music out there, but there’s not really much at all that’s real country music anymore on the mainstream country charts — what is nominated for awards — and it’s been going that way for years now, and I don’t know if it’ll ever come back," he said.
Despite that, Jackson named Chris Stapleton as an artist he enjoyed, though he opined that Stapleton's music isn't truly country.
"Chris Stapleton — I love Chris, he’s authentic," Jackson said. "A real writer. Musician. He opened for me for awhile before he hit so big. I’m a big fan of his. But what he’s making now really isn’t real country: It’s more like bluesy, Southern rock kinda stuff. I love it, it’s great, but he’s the closest thing to country out there."
The 59-year-old explained that when he first came to Nashville in the '80s, he wanted to do something different than the pop sound that was so prevalent at the time.
"I was a young guy that loved the real traditional Conway Twitty and Charley Pride and George Jones and Merle Haggard," he said. "I loved all that real stuff, and there weren’t any new guys coming along doing that. And I said, man, somebody’s gotta do that that’s new."
As for today's musical landscape, Jackson thinks that if an artist were to employ the same tactic he did and go back to a more traditional country sound, they would find a fanbase.
"I think if a young guy or girl came along, kinda like Randy Travis did in the ’80s—real authentic, had a cool voice and some great songs — and you if you could get radio to play it, there's young people who’d love it," he mused. "I’m not bitter and I don’t expect radio at all to sound like Hank Williams in the ’50s, but there oughta be room for all of it out there. Because there's fans for it out there."
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