DIARY - 9 AUGUST 2010 - ALAN JACKSON CD REVIEW
FREIGHT TRAIN (SONY-BMG)
FRED EAGLESMITH DRIVES ALAN JACKSON FREIGHT TRAIN
come down from Chippewa/had a station wagon and a hundred dollars/thinking
about the girl I'd lost a year before/I hadn't seen her for some time/I
thought that I might go on by/when your memory came flooding in/ and you
closed that door." - Freight Train - Fred Eaglesmith.
in a Masonic temple when your houseboat studio burns down in Southern
Ontario becomes more comfortable when a Georgian superstar records
one of your train songs as the title track of his 18th album.
That's what happened when Alan Jackson chose frequent Aussie tourist
Frederick John Elgersma's historic song Freight Train.
Elgersma, 52 and better known as Fred Eaglesmith, also tickled cash
registers when Kasey Chambers cut it on an early disc.
The singer-songwriter, one of nine children, used a freight train
as his mode of escape from the family farm before it foreclosed.
first scored exposure on the latter day Buddhist's 1995 CD Drive-In
singer Catherine Britt cut the title track as a hidden song on her debut
disc Dusty Smiles & Heartbreak Cures.
But nothing compares with Jackson, 51, making it the focus of an album
that pushes his career sales beyond 51 million.
The laconic Georgian is a prolific writer with nine originals out of 12
so Fred is a lucky man.
right hand closed the front porch door/suddenly a child no more/all the
ribbons, all the bows/in a box now on the closet floor/anxious for what's
to come/afraid to leave a place she loves." - After 17 - Alan
singer kicks off with his riveting blue-collar anthem Hard Hat
And A Hammer before easing into positive love song Every Now
Then it's a change of pace for a nostalgia fuelled mood swing.
The father of three daughters is well qualified to write paternal
coming of age tune - After 17.
Jackson tills a fertile formula that shot the album's first single
It's Just That Way to chart tops.
It was a nice little earner for the writers - Alan's long time producer
Keith Stegall and prolific expat Port Douglas diva Kylie Sackley.
have long been a metaphor for a departed lover so it's fitting Jackson's
nephew Adam Wright chose the colour scheme for faded love in Taillights
absence of stoplights that adorns escapist bliss in That's Where I
Diverse colours ignite romance requiems True Love Is A Golden Ring
and Big Green Eyes.
But not all is smooth sailing for the lakeside dwelling superstar.
He injects melancholia into his tear jerking duet with traditionalist
Texan Lee Ann Womack on historic hit Till The End, penned by Cathy
Gosdin - one of his recently deceased mate Vern Gosdin's ex-wives.
But the disc has a happy ending - storms of life recede as love is poured
like a 30-year old wine in The Best Keeps Getting Better.
That's the good news.
Sadly, Jackson's 2010 Aussie tour plans are on hold.
This delicious disc is sweet solace for fans of the singer first managed
by expat Australasian Barry Coburn.
HAT AND A HAMMER
there's nothing wrong with a hard hat and a hammer/ kind of glue that
sticks this world together/ hands of steel and cradle of the promised
land/ God bless the working man." - Hard Hat And A Hammer - Alan
If you detected
a unique sound in Hard Hat And A Hammer - second single from this
disc - your hearing was perceptive.
played the anvil," Jackson confessed in a recent interview.
"It's got an anvil in there if you listen to it. We cut it, and
I said, 'man, this thing needs, you know, somebody hitting a hammer
on an anvil.'"
That instrumentation provides a link to a key song on Alan's debut
disc Here In The Real World - just 21 years ago.
two lines of Chasin' That Neon Rainbow are "daddy won a radio/tuned
it to a country show."
Those words come directly from the working life of his late mechanic father
Eugene who died in January of 2000.
Jackson also honoured his car-loving dad in 2002 album title track Drive
(For Daddy Gene.)
Eugene owned the anvil on Hard Hat And A Hammer, mounted on a section
of a telephone pole.
"It's a big old anvil," Alan explained.
"The back of it's broken off, and he got it when he worked for the
county farm. They gave it to him 'cause it was broken, I guess, so it
stayed in our garage my whole life. I beat on a lot of parts and steel
on that thing, and he did, too. And when he died, I got a lot of his stuff,
and that anvil's in my car museum garage there, and so anyway, that's
what we used. We took a hammer, and it didn't sound right, and we finally
had to get two or three different hammers - finally found one that sounded
right, and that's what's on the record.
And I sat there and beat on that anvil."
Alan's makeshift instrument has precedent - the recently deceased Jimmy
Dean's recording of his huge 1961 hit Big Bad John.
In the historic song about a mining disaster, the late session musician
and solo artist Floyd Cramer simulated sound of the workers' axes by hanging
an iron doorstop from a hanger and banging on it with a hammer.
That's show business - Music City style - for singing actor, sausage king
and TV host Dean who died at 81 on June 12, 2010.
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