Monday, November 24, 2008

Alan Jackson is a CMT Country Music Giant

Alan Jackson will be honored as CMT Country Music Giant on a Dec. 6 with CMT special filmed at sold out Ryman Auditorium. Alan is defiantly worthy of the honor. Reba McEntire and Hank Williams Jr. were the first two honoraries. I was interest to note the list of performers at Alan’s event is most cross gender of the three.

Reba had all women at her event (Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), and LeAnn Rimes). Hank Jr. had mostly men with Gretchen Wilson and his daughter Holly Williams as the only women (Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Shooter Jennings were some of the men who appeared).

Alan has George Strait, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Martina McBride, and Derrick Bentley performing with Carrie Underwood, Brooks & Dunn, and Diane Sawyer offer video tributes to Alan. Hank Williams Jr. and George Jones will appear in person to pay tribute to Alan.

So Alan has four women and three guys performing. What does that mean? Reba was an icon for young female artists. Hank Jr.’s partying, macho songs tended to be beacon for men. Alan Jackson and his music have touched all genders and age groups. The up-tempo partying songs like “Chattahoochee” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” are balanced out by romantic songs of love like “Remember When” and “Livin’ On Love” and songs of heart break like “Here in the Real World” and songs fond remembrance like “Drive (for Daddy Gene”.

Alan has also written many of his own songs making him a role model to young singer – songwriters like Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. He cuts across age with the oldest country hit-making artist (Strait) and the youngest (Swift) honoring him. Alan Jackson has truly been the country music artist for all ages, genders, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes.

Below is what I read on the Web was to be the set list for the night and my comments.

Brad Paisley (w/ an appearance by Alan Jackson) “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” – Paisley is a well-know fan of Alan’s and has modeled his career after him, so he needed to here. Obviously this song had to be included, but I think Paisley was the wrong person. He would have been great doing “Here in the Real World”.

Miranda Lambert & Lee Ann Womack “Gone Country” – Alan was an early booster of Lee Ann’s career and she has not forgotten that. I was pleased to see Miranda included in the evening. I know she is a big fan of Alan’s and she leans toward the traditional country singer – songwriter he is.

I have to see this performance to judge it. I am not sure how a duet with these two fine artists will work on this song. Miranda would have been great on “Mercury Blues” or “Where I Come From”. Lee Ann could have tackled one of Alan’s many amazing ballads.

Martina McBride “Where Somebody Loves You” – A surprising song choice as this song was not one of Alan’s bigger hits. Still it seems to be something Martina could do well with. Martina is a long time admirer of Alan’s. The two have duet together and toured together. Then again everyone has toured with Alan. I was not surprise to see her on the list of performers.

Dierks Bentley “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” – Another obvious song choice. I think it will work well for Dierks. He is another Alan admirer, and a singer – songwriter dedicated to music more than image much like Alan has tried to be. I am not a huge Dierks guy, but I think it great he is here.

Taylor Swift “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” – I read on People Magazine’s Web site that Taylor says this song meant a lot to her father and her. I can see why. This is a real classic and something Taylor should have little problem handling. As a young singer – songwriter I Taylor has great admiration for Alan’s work, and it longevity.

I am sure the producers of the show were happy to have Taylor there, as where Taylor goes viewers follow. No offense to Brad, Lee Ann, Miranda, Martina, and Dierks, but none of them are mega – stars. Love her or hate her, Taylor is a mega star.

George Strait “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” - Of course George Strait is beyond mega star, he is an icon still charting hits and selling records. He is also a close friend and duet partner of Alan’s. Alan and George have been beacon’s of excellence in country music for years. They are icons. George had to be here, just as Alan should be at George’s CMT Giant celebration when that time comes.

Of course “Where Were You…” had to be included and I am glad George was selected to do the song. I have no doubt it will be a brilliant performance.

Alan Jackson “Chattahoochee” and “Remember When” – If I remember correctly at her CMT Giant celebration Reba sang only “Fancy” and at his Hank Jr. did only “Family Tradition”. Alan evidently will get two songs. Classics like these will remain ageless.

Alan Jackson, George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley “Country Boy” – Alan’s present single gets the All-Star group performance. The song is an interesting choice; I would have gone for “Where I Come From”, but they are all country boys.

I would have liked to see Carrie Underwood perform rather than offer a video tribute. However it looks like her concert schedule made that impossible. Brooks & Dunn also offered a video tribute, but no other artist from the early 90’s (Strait covers the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s) is included. I would have been nice for say Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, or Garth Brooks to offer a shout out, but I guess with the limited time available you have to give time to the hot artists of the day and real hip old guys like Hank Jr. and George Jones.

Still I think this will be great. Interestingly Reba, Hank Jr. and Alan have yet to make the Hall of Fame, but Hall of Famers from their generations like Alabama, Vince Gill, and George Strait have not be named CMT Giants. Neither has Garth Brooks. Something tells me that will be corrected in the future as CMT Giants will probably continue on for years. For now it is a true country music giant – Alan Jackson.