My Kind of Country

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

Single Review: Alan Jackson – ‘So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore’

Alan Jackson’s debut single for his new label Capitol was a bit of a disappointment to longterm fans, and it also failed to satisfy radio programmers. ‘Long Way To Go’ peaked at #24, and was a forgettable attempt to emulate Kenny Chesney, which while not unlistenable, was well below Alan’s best work. It’s a great pleasure to report that the sequel is infinitely better, and is the finest Alan Jackson single for years, raising hopes for his forthcoming album.

Written by Alan’s very talented nephew Adam Wright with Jay Knowles, the song offers a response to the failure of a relationship in which the one who refuses to cast blame comes out as a better person. The protagonist sounds defeated from the get-go as he tacitly agrees to take the blame for everything that has gone amiss in their relationship – and by that very attitude reveals to the listener that he still loves her, whatever her feelings may be.

The underlying bitterness surfaces occasionally as with the barbed comment,

I will keep all those memories of the good times
Yeah there were some good times
So when you think of you and me
They won’t even cross your mind

Mostly, however, he gives in to her need to make herself look good in the eyes of others, so she can leave him guilt-free:

I’ll be the bad guy
I’ll take the black eye
And I’ll walk out
You can slam the door
I’ll be the SOB
If that’s what you need from me
So you don’t have to love me anymore

When you and our friends talk
Make it all my fault
Tell ‘em I’m rotten to the core
I’ll let it all slide
Get ‘em all on your side
So you don’t have to love me anymore

This is a song which makes it clear that both parties are complicated human beings with their own emotions, even as one naturally sympathizes with the protagonist. A remarkably mature insightful lyric presents a psychologically complex and very realistic situation. Listening to the regretful but weary tone, you’re torn between hoping the girl sees sense and rekindles her old love – or that she makes a clean break so he can find someone who deserves him.

A gentle melody and quiet, tasteful production with sympathetic fiddle and steel allows Alan’s understated vocal to take center stage and convey the complicated emotions of the song without needing to fight the backing.

By far Alan’s best single since 2004’s superlative ‘Monday Morning Church’, I don’t know if it will revive his declining fortunes at radio, but I certainly hope it does. And while it’s far too soon to be talking of songs of the year for 2012, this sets the bar really high.

Grade: A+

Listen for yourself.

24 responses to “Single Review: Alan Jackson – ‘So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore’

  1. Ken Johnson January 12, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Wow Alan! A song with “SOB” in the lyrics? Really? This will make your music more relevant? I’d expect to hear that from one of the current rap-loving earing-wearing tatooed country wannabes but not from Alan Jackson.

    Totally CLASSLESS.

    My opinion of Alan has dropped quite a few notches.,

    • Jonathan Pappalardo January 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Gary Allan used “SOB” in the chorus of his debut single “Her Man” back in 1996:

      ‘Cause I’ve been a wild catter, and a go-go getter
      Been an S.O.B. right down to the letter
      I’ve had misadventures, I’ve even got pictures
      I’m even more than I can stand
      But startin` today, all I’m gonna be is her man

      • Razor X January 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm

        Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels also used it, but they didn’t attempt to sanitize it by only using the initials.

        • john-don August 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm

          are you guys all just stupid…? he is the best of the best yes johnny cash and charlie daniels also did that and i love them both but at least alan is cleaning it up for the littler fans. ever think about that wise ass?! and for the guy who said “Totally CLASSLESS.My opinion of Alan has dropped quite a few notches.” SHUT-UUUP you have no idea what he is going through his wife has cancer hes staying strong and making money for his family and all you do its tear him apart! shame on you!!
          alan jackson i grew up listening to you i love you and always will god bless your family and you.
          love always
          your loving/caring fan

    • luckyoldsun January 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Are you for real or is that a joke?

      Country artists have been hinting at bad words or bad acts for as long as they’ve been making country music–often humorously. Little Jimmy Dickens–the stalwart of the Grand Old Opry had one of his biggest latter-day hits with a song called “Were You There When the Ship Hit the Sand?”

      If you are not kidding and are genuinely offended by this song, then just get rid of your TV, radio and computer and don’t buy any magazines or newspapers, because there ain’t nothing that won’t offend you. (Heck, I probably offended you by using the word “ain’t”.
      And the word “heck.”)

      • Ken Johnson January 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        You completely missed the point.

        My point wasn’t that there has never been profanity used in country music. I just don’t expect it from Alan Jackson. Alan has never been an “edgy” artist or an outlaw in any fashion. Therefore it seems extremely out of character for HIM to sing a song with “S.O.B” in it.
        Perhaps Alan’s primarily doing it for shock value to get today’s rap-loving tone-deaf country radio programmers to notice him. Too bad because Alan is better than that.

        • Chickette January 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

          Or perhaps he just liked the song which happened to have the term “SOB” in it.

        • luckyoldsun January 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

          I don’t know how old you are or what your background is, but if you’re serious, then you must be the most fragile and sheltered person on the Internet.

          I’m “shocked” than anybody could find this song the least bit shocking. Alan Jackson could sing this song at the White House (under any of our recent presidents), in a gathering of churchgoers, on “Oprah,” “The View,” “Today” or “Good Morning America,” or on the stage of the Grand Old Opry, and I’m confident that 99% of listeners would be perfectly fine with it.

          Alan Jackson is a 50-year-old man who’s been around. He did not record this as a children’s record.

          I still have to wonder if you’re serious, because I don’t know how you can be a country music listener, with all the references to cheating and getting drunk and “I’ll kick this,” “You can kiss my that,” etc. if the language of this song offends you.

        • Ken Johnson January 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

          Once again you seem to have completely missed my point.

          As you seem to be the only one here you doesn’t understand it I suggest that you might try to slowly re-read my previous post as your comments don’t make any sense. If you still don’t understand it perhaps you can find someone to explain it to you.

    • luckyoldsun January 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      I guess we’ll have to leave it to others to decide which–if either of us–is making sense, and which one isn’t.

      I would suggest that you slowly re-read your own post. Like the part where you said Jackson’s behavior is “totally classless”.

      What’s most humorous is you talk about Alan Jackson employing “shock value” or being “edgy”. Sounds like you’re some fragile girl who’s just awakened from the most repressive part of the Victorian Era.

      Again, I suspect you’re just clowning around. If you truly find the Jackson cut offensive–for the reason you’ve given–then you wouldn’t be listening to country music at all. 90% of country greats–from Jimmy Rodgers to Johnny Cash to George Jones to Conway –Twitty to Loretta Lynn–have recorded songs that are far more suggestive or provocative than this completely tame and innocent Jackson record.

    • Brian Henry, Jr. February 20, 2012 at 6:21 am

      In my humble opinion…

      Truthfully, country music is–and always has been–one of the truest expressions of the human condition, and any artist that wants to portray our condition with genuine honesty will occasionally need to borrow from the vernacular of modern society. When pain and despair overwhelm us, when words fail to express what we feel, we sometimes swear–it is an expression of the heart that can be conveyed in no other way. And it is, at its core, purely truthful. So if country music becomes afraid of the occasional swear, it has lost its honesty, it has lost its ability to be the mirror in which society can examine itself and grow.

  2. Paul W Dennis January 13, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Surely you remember Roger Miller’s ditty “If You Won’t Be My #1 (Then #2 On You) ?

    I too prefer my music be profanity-free but s.o.b is pretty mild

    • luckyoldsun January 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      No, can’t say I do remember that.

      One of the great country songs of the ’80s had the phrase “Go to Hell” in the chorus. I think it went to #1.
      It was not offensive, in its context.

  3. Michelle January 13, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I loved Alan’s song Long Long Way To Go. Just a personal opinion I would prefer anything Alan Jackson does to Taylor Swift any day.

    • rebecca lainhart January 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I agree Michelle. Anyone who takes Alan as disappointment is not a true fan. He is truly the best. “A Long Way To Go” is definately not a dissapointment.

      • Ben Foster January 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        I don’t think I would want to be a “true fan” if it requires automatically accepting everything an artist releases without giving it an honest, objective evaluation, be it Alan Jackson or anyone else. I think a fan should take an artist seriously enough to admit when he makes a misstep.

        • Occasional Hope January 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm

          That’s my position too. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think Long Way To Go is bad, just a bit below par compared to Alan’s best work, and I had hoped for more from his debut for a new label.

  4. Ben Foster January 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I’m only just now hearing the song for the first time, but I am definitely liking it. After hearing him sing about bologna and bug-infested margaritas, I’m very glad to hear a new Alan Jackson song that I can fully get behind. I definitely hope that new album gets a release soon.

    I’m rather surprised that so much of the discussion has revolved around its inclusion of the phrase “SOB.” It doesn’t strike me personally as an attempt for Alan to come off as edgy, though it might if he were applying the term to someone else instead of to himself. I definitely don’t think it puts a negative stain on the song, which as a whole sounds very much like the kind of song Alan has always done well.

    • luckyoldsun January 17, 2012 at 1:49 am

      You’re certainly right about that. Some people can only count words–without understanding or appreciating what the words mean in the context in which they are used.

  5. Roxianne January 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I am a long time Alan Jackson fan. So in love with everything his flawless voice sings. This song is now my second favorite falling only to his remake of The Blues Man. This song marks a super radio comeback for Mr Jackson. but for me he was never gone. but I work at a radio station and we all agree this is a tremendous way to get him back in the limelight. Way to go Alan!

  6. RowdyRed January 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    How does the use of the term “SOB” (once, in the first 20 seconds) designate this song as edgy, by any definition? It’s about as edgy as “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

    Obsessing over one (well chosen) word, out of a song with this much nobility in its heartache, seems incredibly tunnel-visioned. Listen to the totality of the message. The “character” in this song has character and class to spare.

    I hope this gets all the radio play it deserves (and I guarantee the use of “S.O.B.” won’t be an obstacle). The tempo may be a problem, but I do hope not. Alan has a lot of fans that have missed the “Small Town Southern Man” they have loved for so long. Come on, radio…..don’t pull a “Sammy” on us!!

  7. Brian Henry, Jr. February 20, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Well, I don’t know about SOB, but I’m offended that Alan Jackson shaved his mustache for the video…must be trying to go all edgy!

  8. haley browning June 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

    A good song(: l

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