Alan Jackson is known for his classic country sound, something he believes has all but disappeared in the landscape of mainstream country music today. In a new interview with Hits Daily Double, the singer opined that "Country music is gone — and it's not coming back."
"It's like the 1980s again. I'm 62 years old; I'm not some 30-year-old stud," he said, adding that he wants to do his part to aid in a return with his new album, Where Have You Gone. "It's not the same, but somebody has to bring it back, because it's not just people in their 50s, it's people in their 20s, too. All the kids and young people around my house? The older they've got, the more hardcore and traditional what they've leaned into has become." Jackson explained that to him, "Real country songs are life and love and heartache. They're drinking. singing about Mama and having a good time, sad things, fun things."
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Jackson released Where Have You Gone on Friday, May 14, declaring the album "not old-school" but "the real school." "It's even a little harder country than what I've done, but it's what I've always dreamed about doing," he said. "I was driving out here in the country, where I live, listening to the mixes, and it's so real. I actually teared up."
"It reflects the sounds of the instruments I grew up on, steel and acoustic guitar, the fiddle and the way they all came together," he shared. "It gave you a sound, but also a real feeling or emotions no other music really had. When I visualize back home and growing up, that's what I hear. Merle [Haggard], [George] Jones, Hank Williams Jr. — Hank Williams Sr. I found when I got here. There were a lot of young people who liked that music, but it felt like nobody was making it. Or maybe signing it and putting it out."
Jackson became that person when he got signed and began releasing music in 1989, starting with his debut single, "Blue Blooded Woman." "I thought, 'If my career lasts three or four years...,' I'd've been happy," Jackson recalled. "I had no clue. I still don't. I know I've changed, but I'm still pretty much the same. I still eat beans and cornbread, fool with my cars and go outside to watch the sunset. I'm not in the working man's world, but my heart's still there. I still think I have those same values — honest work, work hard, be decent. I never felt the need to chase anything different than the music. I was just lucky enough, other people liked what I did and felt it too."