Alan Jackson: Almost Unplugged

The Stories He Told During His "Half-Wired" Show

Alan Jackson always looks right at home onstage, so it’s hard to imagine a day when he was ever homesick.

But 31 years ago, when he’d just moved to Nashville, he was. And his therapy was to write a song for his mom, he explained last week at his Acme Feed & Seed bar, eatery and concert venue.

“It was my first time away from Georgia and I was homesick and I was trying to get into the music business, so when the first Mother’s Day came up,” Jackson told the crowd, “I wrote this song for my mama.”

He continued, “It’s a true story about her and my daddy starting out as young kids. My granddaddy had a couple of acres, and he gave my mom and dad a little piece when they got married. They built a 12’-by-12’ tool shed, they rolled it down on logs, and that’s where they started their life. That’s where I was raised and grew up until I moved to Nashville. My mom is 86 and she still lives there in that house,” he said before singing “Home,” which was on his 1990 debut album.

The show — part of the Acme Unplugged series — was held on the 3rd floor, and was Jackson’s way of kicking off the week of the CMA Music Festival

And he started by saying that even though it was called Unplugged, there is always a line or two running to something.

“So I always called ours ‘half wired,’” he said, then joking, “This ain’t my typical high energy show I do. I’m not gonna be swinging from the ceiling.”

Jackson’s humble beginnings in Nashville — singing demos for $25 a piece, writing songs, playing little clubs, doing showcases, getting turned down by record labels — always make for good stories. And knowing how close he was to moving back to Georgia to work in the car business (because he’d reached the end of his self-imposed five-year deadline) makes you appreciate the fact that he stuck around to get his coveted record deal.

But even then, there were no guarantees.

Jackson talked about how his first song, “Blue Blooded Woman,” didn’t soar to the top of the charts like he’d hoped.

“Man, I was bummed out. Then my wife came home and said she was pregnant and I thought, ‘I’m gonna have to go back to work.’ Luckily this next song came out,” he said of “Here in the Real World,” which reached the No. 3 spot on the Billboard country charts. “It was my first hit, and I haven’t worked since.”

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