The CMT News interview with Alan Jackson is featured on this week’s episode of CMT Insider premiering Friday (Sept. 3) at 11 p.m. ET/PT. To preview Jackson’s new album in its entirety, visit his artist page at CMT.com
The word “love” is mentioned just once in the song titles, but the emotion is a recurring theme on Alan Jackson’s new album, What I Do, arriving in stores Tuesday (Sept. 7). Preceded by its first single, “Too Much of a Good Thing,” What I Do is Jackson’s 14th album in a recording career that began in 1989 with Here in the Real World.
In a recent interview for CMT Insider, Jackson acknowledged that much of the album is about love or lost love.
“Most songs are written like that,” he says. “I guess they always have been. It’s just a subject that creates a lot of emotion, good or bad, and that’s what fuels songwriters. … You lost your partner or they packed up and left or you found someone new to love, that’s what inspires the song. I guess those emotions are more common and easy to write about.” He adds, “You can win a football game, but it’s not really an emotion you can put into a song very well.”
Jackson wrote five of the 12 songs on the new album, relying on other material from familiar names, including producer Keith Stegall, Dennis Linde, Shawn Camp and Billy Burnett. The project includes guest vocals by Patty Loveless and the Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban. It also features songs written by Adam and Shannon Wright, who provide background vocals on the album, too. In fact, they wrote the one song with “love” in the title — “If Love Was a River.”
“The Wrights are a husband-wife duo that are singers-songwriters,” Jackson explains. “Adam Wright is a relative of mine. He’s my sister’s son, and he’s been in music all his life. When he was a kid, he’d play guitar, play piano. He later moved to Atlanta and was on the club circuit there. … He’s kind of a mixture of all kinds of music. He’s never been straight country or pop, rock or alternative. He’s done all types of music, and he’s a talented musician as well. Shannon, before they were married, they sang together at little clubs and had a little band forever.” Jackson continues, “I guess they finally thought about moving to Nashville, and I’d listen to some of the CDs they were making and got more interested in them as an act.”
Especially impressed with the Wrights’ songwriting and originality, Jackson has signed them as the first act on a new independent record label he’s launching.
“It’s not real predictable,” he says of their music. “They’re both musicians and harmonize and have a really unique sound together. Anyway, they came to Nashville and worked hard for a year or two, and they finally came up with their groove and style and sound, so I helped them get something in the studio, and they have an album coming out later this year. … It’s really a neat sound, and I think it’ll catch on really well and people will like it.”
What I Do includes one live track recorded April 21 during the CMT 2004 Flame Worthy Video Music Awards at Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center. Written by veteran songwriter Tim Johnson, “To Do What I Do” expresses an artist’s sincere appreciation of faithful fans who have stuck with them through thick and thin. As the day of the awards show approached, Jackson remembered Johnson’s song in a pile of CDs he had been previewing.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just do this song live,'” he said. “It’s a fan-based show, and this song is a thank you to the fans for their support. … That’s the actual crowd on there. It’s not something we stuck in there. It’s their response, and it’s just … got a good feel to it, got a lot of emotion in there, I think. The whole audience … and the live cut work really cool.
“It’s perfect. I put it on the last cut of the album.”