OFFSTAGE: Jason Aldean’s Back-to-School Memories

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Jason Aldean was such a big country fan as a teenager — of Brooks & Dunn, Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw especially — that what he remembers most vividly is wearing cowboy boots to school. “Me and my friends were all big country music fans. I remember when school would start back up after summer was over, and everybody’d be singing the songs that were big hits over summer, and we’d all be wearing our cowboy boots to school,” he told me when he was in town last weekend.

To this day, he has banked on those memories to make music that he thinks all ages can relate to. “My music, it ain’t music that’s gonna change the world or anything. But whenever I hear a song that I go, ’That makes me think of me being 17 years old again,’ I gotta feel like there’s an audience for that. I make music that, if I was a fan, I’d want to listen to in my truck,” he explained.

When we talked about the younger audience he’s been pulling in at his shows, his theory is that teenagers can relate to him more so than someone who’s been singing country for 20 years. “That’s the way the circle of music happens,” he said. But since he never really set out to target a specific age group, seeing a broad range of fans at his shows (from 6 to 60 sometimes) is a nice surprise for Aldean. “I play what I play, and whoever likes it, likes it,” he told me.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.