The day after he turned 50 last month, Alan Jackson felt his age — and then some, due to “a big ol’ party at the house” in suburban Nashville.
But two days later the country star felt better and was feeling reflective about hitting the half-century mark as an active and still wildly successful force in the mar ketplace.
“Most of the careers I’ve watched happen, if they lasted two or three or five years, that was a big career, so I just never thought I’d make it this far,” says the Georgia native, who moved to Nashville in the mid-’80s and worked in The Nashville Network mailroom before signing a deal and releasing his first album in 1989.
“I was so ignorant and naive about the music business when I came here ... I was just working hard to try and get a record deal and get one song on the radio. It’s kind of a one step at a time thing. I never thought about the possibility of it lasting this long and having this much success.”
Jackson has sold more than 50 million albums during the past 19 years and notched two dozen No. 1 country singles. He’s taken home a record 16 Country Music Association Awards to go with nine from the Academy of Country Music and a Grammy for his socially conscious 2002 hit “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
And he’s still having a “Good Time,” thanks to the album of that name. Released in March, it debuted atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and has been certified gold. It’s already launched three singles — including the latest, “Country Boy” — and Jackson predicts his record company might try to “squeeze out five singles” before the cycle is done.
Moreover, “Good Time” marks Jackson’s return to the country mainstream after his bluegrass-styled 2006 collaboration with Alison Krauss, “Like Red on a Rose,” and the same year’s gospel set, “Precious Memories.” He acknowledges that he tested the audience a bit, but he’s not surprised it was still there when he returned to the more familiar fold.
“I don’t know that I worried about it too much,” Jackson says of his fans’ loyalty. “I think it worked out pretty good. I’ve always had an album a year for nearly 20 years, just bam, bam, bam, every year or two. So maybe it was a good time to take a little break and give us a chance to come up with all this material and make a good album.”
Jackson, in fact, recorded 25 songs for “Good Time,” meaning he’s already got a start on his next album. And, he reports, he’s “written a couple of new songs” and plans to start looking for other material soon.
But with “Good Time” hardly slowing down, Jackson’s not necessarily in a hurry to rush back into the studio.
“I usually record in the winter time,” he notes, “but this winter might be a little early to start putting stuff down. I don’t like to (work ahead) because things change and sometimes your whole perspective changes before you get to the finish line. So I like to wait.”
Jackson’s hardly just standing by, however. He’s on the road, of course, and he’s coming up to another CMA Awards show, on Wednesday in Nashville, where he has four nominations — including Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year. Asked for a prediction, however, Jackson surmises, with a laugh, that “I’ll lose everything.”
“I told ’em two years ago when they were still giving me awards that, ‘Man, y’all need to start voting for some of these younger guys. We gotta keep the industry going,” says three-time Entertainer of the Year Jackson, who has three daughters with his wife of 28 years, Denise.
“I’ve always felt if you have some real exceptional song or something, it’s nice to get recognized. As far as the award for male vocalist or something, I’ve already one that. But it’s always nice to win, too.”
Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and James Otto perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 8) at The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $29.50-75. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com. Jackson will also perform at the 42nd Country Music Association Awards, which will be telecast at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC (WXYZ, Channel 7 in Detroit
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