Alan Jackson‘s long-awaited album, Where Have You Gone, is out! The ambitious 20-track project marks Jackson’s first new set of tunes in six years, and a bold celebration of the country music he loved as a kid, and still loves today. While Jackson poured his heart and soul into Where Have You Gone, he felt a freedom in writing and choosing all the songs for the record, without any regard to whether or not any of the tracks would be embraced by country radio.
“I probably won’t be on radio,” Jackson confesses to Apple Music’s Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen. “My songs probably won’t get played on radio, and I’m not bitter about it at all. It’s just what it is. I’m too old for today’s hot new country. I’m not bitter about it. I don’t care. But it just takes pressure off of you. Don’t have to worry about, do I need to try to record something for radio? Try to get on radio or singles.
“I’ve won every award multiple times, most of them,” he continues. “And I’m proud of that, but I don’t care if I get nominated for anything. I don’t care if it’s on the radio. And it’s not sounding mean, it’s just the truth. I just wanted to make the kind of music I love and I know most of my fans love.”
Not since 2012 has Jackson had a hit at radio, with “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” from his 2012 Thirty Miles West record. Some may have thought, after so much time between projects, that he was ready to ride off into the proverbial sunset, but instead he was just pondering his next move, whatever that might be.
“I didn’t really worry about it one way or the other,” Jackson reflects to Yahoo! Entertainment. “If I hadn’t ever made another album, I just wouldn’t have made it. But when it felt right, it felt right. I think I would have been happy either way. I’ve had a crazy career and I’m surprised I still write songs now anyway, after all this time.”
Jackson previously acknowledged there were some personal heartbreaks in the last six years that delayed more music, including the death of both his mother, Ruth, and his daughter Mattie’s husband, Ben Selecman, after less than a year of marriage.
“It took a couple of years to get through all that. I just didn’t feel like writing,” Jackson admits. “When you’re the daddy and you kind of feel like you’re the head man, and you’ve got your wife and your daughters and everybody, you really hurt more for them going through it. It just took a long time for me to feel good again, to feel like I actually wanted to sit down and try to write something.”
But when Jackson was ready to write and record, the 62-year-old found a drive and an energy that surprised even him, working once again with his longtime producer, Keith Stegall.
“When Keith and I went in, I said, ‘Man, we’re going to make a country album. I don’t have to worry about radio anymore; they probably won’t play me anyway. I’m just going to make what I like — and what I know my fans like,'” Jackson remembers. “And we went in there and I brought these old pickers back that played of most my records, and they played some of the coolest tracks that we’ve played in 30 years. When Keith sent me those first two or three cuts that were kind of half-done, it just about made me tear up. I had to pull over. I was so proud, and so glad to hear some real country music. … I just sat there, and then I told my wife, ‘These songs need to come with a six-pack of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.'”
Where Have You Gone is available for purchase here.*
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