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Long live the king of country music

Country Musings by Robert Loy, September 2004

Long live the King.

A couple of years ago, I took it upon myself to crown a new queen of country music. (Patty Loveless, of course, and Her Majesty, and I don't want to hear any argument about it.)

The time has come to crown a new king as well.

The man I propose take the throne has done a lot for country music, and there are a lot of good reasons to admire him. He's won dozens of awards and sold a bazillion records, but he remains a humble man, married for 24 years to his childhood sweetheart. (Unlike a lot of country superstars who can't wait to hit it big so they ditch their humility and the woman who stood beside during the struggling years - which is why we're not going to hand the sceptre to Garth.)

And my God, the songs that man has done. He summed up all of the fear, confusion and hope that each of us felt on Sept. 11th, 2001 better than any other artist in any medium with "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning.)" He's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, even if it angers the Nashville elite (who got more than a tad perturbed when he accused them of cutting out the heart and soul of country music in "Murder on Music Row.") He was even brave enough to take on Wal-Mart when he lamented the loss of Mom and Pop stores in "The Little Man."

Alan Jackson has done beautiful love songs, made us nostalgic for the days of learning how to drive, and he's never forgotten where he comes from.

"It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" earned Alan's duet partner Jimmy Buffet his first ever number one single (and for that alone A.J. deserves to be knighted at least), but that song has done more than that. It has revived the country music tradition of imbibing alcohol. Think about it, before "Five O'Clock," if country radio mentioned demon rum at all, it was about getting off the stuff, about being on a roll in Little Rock. And since AJ and JB told us what time it was, we've gone a few rounds with Jose Cuervo and fallen in love with our neighborhood bars again. (Taking on the PC police, now that really takes courage.)

And for doing all of that and doing it better than anyone else, I submit that Alan Jackson is and of a right ought to be the reigning King of Country Music.

Although knowing A.J., he'll probably be too humble to wear the crown.

The views expressed in this column are Robert Loy's and do not necessarily reflect those of CST.