"I just 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.

Living 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.

It first scored exposure on the latter day Buddhist's 1995 CD Drive-In Movie.

Novocastrian 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.


"Her 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 Jackson

The singer kicks off with his riveting blue-collar anthem Hard Hat And A Hammer before easing into positive love song Every Now And Then.

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.

Taillights 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 Blue.

But it's absence of stoplights that adorns escapist bliss in That's Where I Belong.

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.


"But 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 Jackson

If you detected a unique sound in Hard Hat And A Hammer - second single from this disc - your hearing was perceptive.

"I 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.

The first 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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