As Jason Aldean sat at a conference table before Tuesday’s (Jan. 8) No. 1 party for the Miranda Lambert collaboration “Drowns the Whiskey,” he was able to recall a time when he had almost nothing to his name.
This was a time before his breakout debut “Hicktown” ignited his rise to international fame, and they’re memories he wouldn’t drown in whiskey even if his life depended on it. Those memories perpetually motivate him to keep going in music every day.
“I had a record deal and lost it,” Aldean recalled. “I kept almost getting there with record labels and then something would happen. That’s frustrating. That’s frustrating for anybody.
“My oldest daughter was just born. That’s kind of where I had to figure out something — a way to feed her. That was priority No. 1. There was a point when I was going to move back to Georgia and go to work with my cousin and just try to reassess some things. I think for me, what still motivates me is that.
“I’ve been poor. It’s not fun. And it wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things. I work hard because I love what I do, but I want nice things for my family. I want them to have a good life.”
That’s why having singles go No. 1 will never get old to him. On Tuesday (Jan. 8) evening, he took over the fifth-floor concert venue and sky deck for a happy hour party to celebrate the Miranda Lambert collaboration “Drowns the Whiskey.” The weather was unseasonably warm for a sunset in January as downtown Nashville glowed in gold like it was at the bottom of a glass full of sparkling champagne.
Onstage, the song’s writers Josh Thompson, Jeff Middleton and Brandon Kinney each had a turn in the blinding sunlight to thank Aldean for recording their song. “Drowns the Whiskey” is Aldean’s 19th No. 1 on Billboard’s country airplay chart and Thompson’s third as a songwriter. It’s Middleton and Kinney’s first No. 1 as songwriters.
When it was time for Aldean to toast, he thanked Tyler Farr because Aldean was initially pitched the song for a Farr project that he had produced. With his pregnant wife Britney looking on from the audience, Aldean also thanked his family.
Lambert was not present for the party, but she was there in spirit before the event when Aldean said she was the obvious choice for his duet partner on “Drowns the Whiskey.” The two previously recorded “Grown Woman” for 2009’s Relentless album.
“I always thought we sounded great together,” Aldean said. “I’ve always loved her voice, and I’ve always wanted to do something else with her and make her more of a featured part.
“It was more traditional, which I feel she’s really good at. I feel people like her and Lee Ann Womack, they have more of that traditional side that sounds really good.”
Aldean’s 2019 on the road starts April 12 at the Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.