As Country Music veered towards pop, Alan Jackson kept it traditional
Finding recordings that came out previous to an artist's mainstream release are really cool. It's kind of like finding a box of old family photos for the first time.
Alan Jackson is one of the few country artists who hasn't changed a whole from his 1989 debut, "Here In The Real World", to, today. And that's one of the reasons why he was so consistently successful for the past two decades.
I'd come across pre-career recordings by Sara Evans and Mark Chesnutt, but when I saw something on Facebook about Alan Jackson's "New Traditional," I figured that was the name of his upcoming album.
Nope, I was wrong. It was a 1987 album that he recorded.
Throughout Jackson's career, there's no doubt that George Jones and Merle Haggard have been huge influences on the Georgia native. Yes, they were influences.
On "New Traditional," it often seems that Jackson is trying too hard to sound like his heroes.
But that's understandable, considering he was a 28-year-old artist who was trying to break into Country Music, and he probably spent most of his time covering those songs in bars, and singing demos.
He was still searching for a sound of his own.
Jackson even recorded a song on "New Traditional," called "Merle and George." The lyrics were re-written from the original tune, which was called "Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul." The chorus is the same, but the references are towards Haggard and Jones songs, rather than Hank Williams Sr. and Lefty Frizzell.
I never knew about this country gem, until I heard country newcomer Jody Booth's cover of "Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul."
Jackson also recorded "The Steal of The Night," on New Traditional. That was a song that George Strait recorded early in his career.
He also cut "You're Not Drinking Enough," which interestingly enough, was recorded by Don Henley in 1984.
Jackson sounds a lot like Haggard on "Break Out The Good Stuff" and like Jones on "I Couldn't Care More."
Who knows? Maybe a new artist will consider Jackson a major influence. Traditional country fans can only hope that up-and-coming artists will be influenced by jackson.