My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: March 3, 2010

Classic Rewind: Terri Clark – ‘Honky Tonk Song’

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Album Review: Alan Jackson – ‘Don’t Rock The Jukebox’

Alan’s second album, released in May 1991, transformed him from a rising star to a fully fledged superstar, selling 4 million copies, with four of its five singles heading to the top of the charts and winning the title of the ACM Album of the Year. Alan co-wrote almost every song, the results ranging from good to great, although at times Alan seems to rely a little too strongly on the pun as inspiration. The production (from Keith Stegall and Scott Hendricks) is excellent, always serving the song and artist sympathetically. The music is solid country in every note, and the songs too draw strongly on the traditions and heritage of country music, with specific tribute paid to George Jones and Hank Williams.

The title track and first single (and ACM Single of the Year) was a ‘heartbroke hillbilly”s appeal for some hurting country music, George Jones rather than the Rolling Stones (picked for the rhyme), set to some tinkling honky tonk piano, steel and fiddle, whose rhythm makes it sound cheerful despite the downbeat lyrics, written by Alan with producer Keith Stegall and veteran writer Roger Murrah:

I ain’t got nothin’
Against rock and roll
But when your heart’s been broken
You need a song that’s slow
Ain’t nothin’ like a steel guitar
To drown a memory

‘Just Playin’ Possum’, written with Jim McBride and Alan’s future manager Gary Overton, is a similarly playful take on turning George Jones records to mend a broken heart. Jones himself offers a cameo at the end (and gets thanked in the liner notes for making ‘a dream come true’, but the theme was too similar to ‘Don’t Rock The Jukebox’ to allow it to be a single, although I like it a little better:

I could cry on my best friend’s shoulder
But there ain’t no use
I need an expert on
The pain I’m going through
So I’ll keep George on the old turntable
Til I’m over you

My personal favourite track is the second single, ‘Someday’, one of two lovely ballads Alan wrote with Jim McBride. It is an understated and gently regretful look at a failed marriage where the disillusioned wife has accepted that the “someday” he’s always promising is never going to come:

I said someday
I’ll get my life straight
She said it’s too late
What’s done is done
I told her someday
She said I can’t wait
Cause sometimes someday just never comes

The protagonist’s regret is never spelled out, but underscores every line in Alan’s perfectly nuanced vocal.

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