"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day/ were you in the yard with your wife and children/ or workin' on some stage in L.A." - Where Were You - Alan Jackson.

Georgian born country superstar Alan Jackson knows exactly where he was when the World Trade Centre was bombed.

He was watching TV at his Tennessee lakeside home after exercising outside.

"The first plane had already hit," Alan revealed, "I was standing there when the second one hit. I was just devastated. I didn't feel like doing anything. I was just depressed for a couple of weeks at least."

But six weeks later the image was so powerful he arose at 3 am and sang his career song into a digital recorder after coming home to Franklin from a concert in his home state.

"I'm just a singer of simple songs. I'm not a real political man/I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran,"

He finished the song in time to debut it live on the CMA Awards in Nashville and shoot it to the top of the Billboard charts for five weeks as his 28th #1 country hit.

The studio and live version, introduced by Vince Gill, are both on Jackson's huge selling 12th album Drive (BMG) that bumped Creed's Weathered from Billboard pop charts after an eight week reign.

"I played a show down in Georgia Saturday night, and I flew home late," Jackson 44, revealed, "I got up at three or four in the morning, and that's when the song came just out of nowhere. I got up, came down here, and put it on a digital recorder. I just sang it, didn't even play guitar. I just sang the melody and lyrics right into it and went back to bed. I got up the next morning, and finished writing the verses. It just came out. I think it was a gift, and I'm just a messenger for it. It's a very special song. It's weird. I've woken up many times and had song ideas, but nothing that structured and that complete."


The humble hombre, who shares the same hometown of Newnan with Steve Young, is no opportunist; he didn't release refries like many peers to cash in on the tragedy.

"I imagine there's probably not many songwriters out there that didn't feel they needed to write something about it," he said, "I felt the same way. I wanted to write something, but I didn't want to write some patriotic song. When I wrote this song I was reluctant about playing it. I played it for my wife but I didn't know if I wanted to record it."

History repeated when Jackson, who duetted with George Strait on the Larry Cordle-Larry Shell parody Murder On Music Row on the CMA Awards the previous year, defied decorum and did a five minute song.

"It's a meaningful song and if it would help people feel like there was somebody else who had the same feelings as they did, I wanted the song to be heard," he said.

Not only heard but read into the congressional record by a Georgia legislator and quoted in church sermons and religious classes in schools.

Jackson stays true to his roots on an album featuring nine originals and also consumes his passion for cars from the title track Drive (for Daddy Gene), Designated Drinker (also with Strait) and First Love.

"My daddy died a few years ago, and I wanted to write something for him," Jackson said of the title track.

"I tried a couple of times, and I always ended up writing some sad dying song. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to write something nice. Daddy didn't say much, but really gave me is my love for cars, and this whole song is a bunch of facts, really."

In the first verse of Drive, Jackson explains how his father used to let him steer their old plywood boat. In the second verse, he tells of climbing behind the wheel of an old Ford truck and feeling like Mario Andretti when his dad let him drive. In the third verse, he sings of being grown and letting his daughters drive an old jeep across the pasture of his home.
First Love is a cute eulogy to a car, disguised as an ode to an older woman.

The object of Jackson's affection is a white 1955 Thunderbird that he sold when he and wife Denise were newly wed and needed money for a house.

A few years ago Denise (with whom the singer had a well publicised rift) tracked the car down, bought it back and surprised him with it as a gift.

"That car was such an important piece of my life. I worked from the time I was 12 years old, saving money to buy my first car," Jackson recalled, "I bought that car when I was 15. To have had that car anyway and then to get it back, the whole story is pretty neat."
But Drive is not all cars and crises - he cut Irene Kelley/Mark Irwin tune A Little Bluer Than That after hearing Kelley perform it at the Grand Ole Opry one night.

And the love songs veer from the humour of Work in Progress to the regret of The Sounds, triumph of When Love Comes Around, solace of Bring On The Night and self explanatory Once In A Lifetime Love.


The singer, discovered by expatriate Australasian publisher and promoter Barry Coburn, is riding a new wave with his latest compilation that has attained triple platinum status.

Jackson has released a bonus eight track disc Some Other Stuff with his Greatest Hits 11 (Arista-BMG).
The singer includes latest smash duet with Jimmy Buffett - It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - and Kieran Kane tune I'll Go On Loving You among the 18 hits.

And the bonus disc features alternate cuts diverse as Job Description and The Sounds.

Jackson performed It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere with Jimmy Buffett on the 2003 CMA Awards show in Nashville.

The video is on Nu Country TV.

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