Alan Jackson makes a change
Jeffrey Remz | March 23, 2011
When Alan Jackson decided he was done with Arista Nashville Records after 20 years, a zillion hits and a great body of work as one of the true and few country traditionalists out there today amidst a rising tide of pop country acts, I thought he was done with the major label scene.
While I have never met or interviewed Jackson, he certainly did not have a Nashville corporate persona about him, which led me to believe maybe he'd just do his own thing and go the indie route. That would seem to suit him just fine.
Well, he sort of is keeping his hands in both worlds. Jackson is going with EMI/Capitol Nashville, one of the few major labels left standing in Nashville. But AJ also is doing it through his own Alan Jackson Records. EMI/Capitol will release and market the CDs, whch are being jointly released with ACR.
Chances are - and hopes are - that the label won't mess too much at all with Jackson. He seems to know a thing or two about what makes for great music. I have always championed his sense of writing about the common man. At a time during which many singers tend to inject the "Southern" man into blue collar anthems, when Jackson does go that route, he uses it more as a metaphor for all Americans, instead of chest beating how great Southerners are. Jackson has shown he is more concerned about the American small town, simple lifestyle than the Southern egoism that has crept into country music in recent years.
Fortunately, Jackson is way beyond that and comfortable in his own Georgian skin, unlike some others out there apparently.
If Jackson were going to go the major label route, the fact of the matter was that he had extremely few choices. Who would possibly sign with Warner these days when the label's future is uncertain and up for bid? MCA Universal also is going through some changes at the top, meaning that Big Machine, Show Dog Nashville and EMI/Capitol were left standing.
Label head Mike Dungan sure must be feeling pretty good these days. You would also if you had Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban on your roster. Hopefully, Dungan can do as well for Jackson. But that's on the commercial end. Actually, where he may be able to help Jackson out is on the live end. The last few tours became very predictable and even reused imagery from previous tours - not very exciting at all.
But there is no reason to doubt that Jackson's song writing ability has suffered at all. May he continue to make great music at his new home.