What’s a hotter ticket than the neon glow of Nashville’s Lower Broadway on a Saturday night? How about a ticket to Alan Jackson’s show at Bridgestone Arena show on Lower Broadway.
As I looked around that massive arena Saturday night (April 11), I couldn’t help but notice there weren’t many empty seats — if any at all.
But with a lineup that also included comedian Jeff Foxworthy and hot country newcomer Jon Pardi (who had the crowd on their feet like a seasoned professional), why would you want to be anywhere else?
Jackson is celebrating 25 years in country music with his Keepin’ It Country tour. And that’s exactly what the Newnan, Georgia, native is doing on the road this year. He’s delivering his career songs the only way he knows how — the way we know and love them. To this day, he’s still trying to wrap his head around the incredible success he’s enjoyed over the years.
“I’ve had more hits on the radio. I can’t remember all my hits anymore, you know?” the singer joked with an overwhelming touch of humility and disbelief to the crowd of fans. “I’ve sold more records than I could ever imagine. I always try to thank the people like y’all who’ve supported my music over the years.”
He also took the time to thank those behind the scenes have worked tirelessly to help Jackson achieve his dream.
“I came to Nashville and met a lot of really good people that helped me get to where I’m at,” he said. “That helped me get the sound, get the records to radio. I’ve just been blessed in every area I can think of.”
Of course, like most Nashville success stories, it wasn’t an easy start for Jackson. As he prepared to introduce a song that changed it all for him, he regaled the crowd with the story of how his career really began.
“It all started with this song,” he said before correcting himself. “Actually, it didn’t start with this song.
“My first song … I came to Nashville, worked about five years, finally got a record deal, recorded an album, my first song came out. We sent it to radio. We were so excited, and it didn’t do good at all. It just died a miserable death on the chart.”
That first single, “Blue Blooded Woman,” was released in 1989 and spent 12 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 48.
“Man, it was sad,” he admitted. “I was bummed out. And I came home, and my wife said we were pregnant, and then I was really kind of not sure. I thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna have to go back to work, I guess.’ Luckily this song came out after that — and I haven’t worked since.”
As Jackson strummed the first chords to “Here in the Real World,” the crowd cheered wildly in what had to be one of the most special full-circle moments I’ve ever witnessed at a show.
The night was like a hit parade of Jackson’s biggest singles: “Remember When,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Good Time,” “Gone Country,” “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and, of course, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
And no one walked away disappointed when Jackson returned for an encore and gave everyone his quintessential classic, “Chattahoochee.” Being a Georgia native myself, that one always gets me going.
Jackson’s 25 years of keeping our hearts, minds and airwaves country are far from over. He just announced he’s releasing a brand new album, Angels and Alcohol, on July 17. It’s his first studio album of new tunes in three years.