Happy Anniversary, Alan Jackson

He Signed His First Major Label Record Deal 25 Years Ago

I’m spinning Alan Jackson tunes on repeat all day Thursday (June 26). Is there any other way to celebrate Alan Jackson’s 25th anniversary in country music?

I will start at the beginning with “Here in the Real World” and move on to “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” where I’ll sing along while attempting some new-fangled harmony.

“Chattahoochee” is a given, which will prompt me to call my cousin and reminisce about how we’d sing it in back of mama’s Lumina at the top our lungs on trips to our grandma’s house in Chester, Ga.

Then I’ll move on to other favorites like “Gone Country,” “Midnight in Montgomery,” “Tall, Tall Trees” and “Like Red on a Rose.” By happy hour, I will likely be sobbing my eyeballs out with a glass of wine while listening to “Remember When.”

On June 26, 1989, the tall, soft-spoken Georgia native sat behind a desk to sign his record deal with Arista Records in a moment that would change his life forever.

But that moment of glory didn’t come easily. Upon moving to Nashville, Jackson worked a handful of jobs, including a stint in the mailroom of TNN: The Nashville Network. Even after the hard work looked as though it might be paying off, his first single, “Blue Blooded Woman,” failed to reach the Top 40.

But Jackson was special. He was not only determined to be a star, he was destined to become one. Some people have it, others don’t. Jackson was one of the blessed ones. His gift was song, and his calling was to share it with the world.

Releasing “Here in the Real World” in 1990, the rest is country music history. Millions of albums, scores of chart-topping country tunes, dozens of massive tours and, 25 years later, he’s still going strong.

There’s a lot of truth in that line from “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” about “made it up to Music Row. … Lordy, don’t the wheels turn slow?” Yes, they do, but country fans are so grateful he stuck with it.

Jackson is working on new music, planning a special 25th anniversary tour and will be the focus of a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as their next artist-in-residence.