Who of those among us that where raised on country music didn’t like songs about trains? You just gotta love an album titled “Freight Train.” In his latest work, Alan Jackson proves after 20 years in the industry, 50 million albums sold, and 34 number one hits, that he is indeed a legend in country music. He co-wrote eight of twelve songs on the album. Lee Ann Womack teams up with Jackson on a impressive cover of the 70’s hit “Til The End” for a rather fitting tribute to the late Vern Gosdin.
The opening track “Hard Hat and a Hammer” speaks to those who understand the satisfaction that comes from a days hard work, while “I Could Get Used To This” showcases some very nice work on steel guitar that is rather hard to find these days. The tracks “It’s Just That Way” and “Big Green Eyes” provide a glimpse at the more edgy side while the ballad “The Best Keeps Getting Better” offers something to those that prefer a softer tune. All in all it is an album that will delight die hard fans and make an impression on new country fans alike.
Maximum Ink: What was it like to work with Lee Ann Womack On Till The End?
Alan Jackson: I been trying to get her to sing a duet with me for a long time. She’s one of my favorite female country singers. Probably the only one out there left that’s singing real hard country stuff, and can really pull it off, I mean, I’ve loved her from day one, and I asked her to sing with me years ago and she turned me down. So finally she agreed to do it. I’m glad to have her on the record and “Till The End’s” been a song that I’ve always wanted to record as a duet, and it was Verne Gosdin song he had a hit on, years and years ago. I think one of his ex-wives wrote this song. Which I didn’t even know that until we got ready to record this. Verne, he passed away of course last year, and I wanted to do a song, in his honor. I got to do a song for Verne, and got to sing with LeAnn, and this, man, it’s a cool cut.
MI: What was it like to do a Vern Gosdin cover?
AJ: Even if you didn’t know anything about it, you could record that today and it would still hold up, without the connection to Verne. And LeAnn just makes it. I thought I sounded good when I was hearing the recording on there when my part came on there, but when LeAnn came on there I thought, Oh man, I sound terrible.(Laughs). She’s so, her voice just jumps out there.
MI: Can you tell us a little about the song That’s Where I Belong?
AJ: This song was about escaping all of the big city, and everything in life, and going to a place like that. It’s been written a hundred times, but this one’s has some more specific things on there I was a little concerned about putting it on the album because I thought, you know, most people aren’t really going to get this song unless they’ve really spent time on the ocean. But it’s part of what I am and that’s how the song came about
MI: What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
AJ: You know, I just, I go out there and fish. I have a pretty big boat and You’re out there just relaxing. I’ve spent hours and hours on the ocean for the last, fifteen years probably. I haven’t been a lot of places, but I’ve spent a lot of time out on that water where you don’t see anything but water in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, off the West Coast and parts of Mexico. And that’s a peaceful place for me. Where phones don’t work, and we’re just out there trawling for hours and that bird I talk about in there is called a Frigate bird, and it’s this big big winged bird. And you don’t see them that often, probably in shore, but offshore, they’re a good sign for somebody who knows about fishing. They’ll usually circle wherever the bait is. And there’s all kinds of birds out there, but the Frigate bird, is usually one that you’d pay attention too ‘cause he’s usually on something.
MI: What was your inspiration for Big Green Eyes?
AJ: Denise, uh, she does have big green eyes, and actually all my girls eyes are pretty much green. One of them kind of fluctuates blue green, but I think they’re all green eyed. So I told them it was for all of em. But it really is for Denise. It was funny, I had that song years ago about “I’ll Go On Loving You”, I think Jamie O’Hare wrote that, but it started out as “When I look into your big brown eyes” and Denise made me change that when I recorded it, it was “big green eyes.” So anyway, I just thought of that. So, it’s definitely a pretty simple little song about her.
MI: True Love Is A Golden Ring has a rather classic feel to it. What was it like to work with Roger Murrah?
AJ: Man, its been so long since I wrote that thing with Roger, I think had that, just had the chorus started like a lot of times you do, when I used to write with people a lot I’d have little pieces started then you go in and you finish writing it with someone. Roger Murrah and I wrote that, “True Love is a Golden Ring,” and we wrote “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” together the same way. I had that song from the road, we were, it was a live story, we were playing a club. Leaning on the jukebox, but Roger and I had written a couple things together and that was just one I had the chorus going and ended up finishing the verses. And I always loved the song and I always intended to record it. It’s been, gosh, it’s been 20 years ago since we wrote the thing. And I’d forgotten about it. It was in my catalog and my nephew Adam we were talking about and his wife Shannon sing together and they had an album they’d put together a year or two ago, or longer, and they found that song in my catalog said, we’re going to cut it. And I said, boy, that’s great, I’d forgotten about it, but then after they cut it, it sounded so good, I told them, I’m going to put that on my next album. (Laughs) so, we did. It’s country, you know, it’s probably too country for country radio today, but man, it’s a cool, it’s a good sounding song. All the harmonies on there, I love that thing.
MI: How did you come up with the lyrics for The Best Keeps Getting Better?
AJ: I always write about what I know about… or think I know about, and, or have done, and I’m not saying I sat down and wrote that for Denise or about us, but you know, you pull from your life, you pull form your experiences. This song, what I like about this song, is you have to listen to it pretty close, and it takes a while to get to the chorus, ‘cause it’s actually, when you first start listening to it, it’s opposite of what you think it’s going to (be) because you’re talking about “you don’t look at me like you used to, I don’t treat you like I used to” so you think, “Oh, this couple started out sweet then it’s gone to hell or something”. But what it means, when you get to the chorus, it’s “yea, we’re not the same as it used to be, but better than we used to be”. So that’s what I like about it. The Best Keeps Getting Better.
MI: How does this album stand out from you past works?
AJ: this is my last album for Arista. You know? And so it’s like a page that tells about all the different roads of music that ended up on the 18 or something albums I’ve had I guess.
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CD: Freight Train Record Label: Arista
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