OFFSTAGE: Jason Aldean: “I Made a Promise to Myself”

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I’ve never seen Jason Aldean look better. He told me Saturday (July 20) he’d dropped a few pounds and was trying to make some healthier choices. But other than that, there’s not much about the headlining Aldean that’s different from the rookie Aldean who debuted five albums and 13 years ago. His look, his music, his band, his producer and his label have all been the same since 2005. And that’s what we talked about right before he took the stage at his sold-out Wrigley Field show in Chicago.

“I just feel like what’s gotten me to this point is doing things the way I’ve always done them,” he said. “I’m a very loyal guy, and my team has helped me get to this point, and I don’t really see any reason to change anything. These guys have my best interests at heart, and that’s the kind of people I want to surround myself with.”

But before the Aldean we know and love became famous, there was that other record deal.

“I was signed to another deal at one point, and they wanted me to take the cowboy hat off and wanted me to change what I was comfortable doing,” he recalled.

Asking Aldean to take off his cowboy hat wasn’t just about his style, though. It was more symbolic than that. People in Nashville wanted Aldean to be someone he wasn’t.

“When I got dropped [from the previous label], I made a promise to myself,” he said. “From then on out, I was gonna do things my way. And if it didn’t work, at least it didn’t work on my terms. If I was any other way, I don’t think it would’ve worked out this way. It’s always been about me singing about things and recording songs about things I can relate to. I’m a pretty normal guy, and there are a lot of people out there like me. They like to hunt and fish and hang out with their friends and drink beer and have a good time.”

And could Aldean ever see himself venturing out and making music about anything else?

“Never,” he said. “I think a guy like Kenny [Chesney] has got the beach thing going on right now. And, I mean, I love the beach, but I don’t see that ever being my niche.”

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