ALAN JACKSON: That country twang thang

Y’know, these days, FM radio country has all the street cred of party politics.

Let’s face it, country and western and alt. country get the respect. They’re about less tangible concepts, like artistic expression, challenging the intellect and the spirit of independence.

The kind of schmaltzy fun that Alan Jackson has cranked out for three decades – Don’t Rock The Jukebox and Chattahoochee still echo incessantly in our heads from years in small-town bars – most definitely is not about deep thought.

There’s a reason a guy like Jackson is such a heavy-hitter: average folk aren’t critics. Sometimes, as a Triumph song once said, they’re just here for a good time, not a long time. And where there was a rural party, of any sort, in the ’90s, there was an Alan Jackson tune. None of it was challenging and you couldn’t get any of it out of yer head.

In that respect, modern country has just adopted the 12- and 16-bar structure of its rock, blues and R&B cousins — the repeated choruses and the general music serialism that gets booties shakin’– and added a country twang, and every lil’ ol’ country thang.

It’s deliberately inoffensive, has its own distinct community and….is pop music with a twang.

Oh, get over it. It’s true and there’s nothing wrong with that. If Johnny Reid, for example, is a country singer, I’m Martha AND The Vandellas. He’s a soul singer and balladeer. But his VALUES are country, and so they dig the wee Scotsman who, admittedly, is almost obscenely nice.

So is Alan Jackson. He played Rexall on Wednesday night (March 31) with Canadian country gentleman George Canyon (the young George Strait) and the Harters (one of those two-guys-and-a-girl trios that seem to dominate the country wannabe landscape right now). There were no surprises at the show – surprised? – but a crowd of 8,500 fans ate up every single No. 1 hit Jackson and his Strayhorns dished up like slick servings of ham, corn and cheese. Mmm, now we’re all hungry.

Alan Jackson is a country legend for a reason: the man knows how to tap a foot, strum an acoustic and sang them purdy lyrics. His simple songs have touched a nerve with that portion of the North American public known as “country people,” even if they live in the city. There is no shame. For them, Alan Jackson is the epitome of cool.

Like the man says, Don’t Rock The Jukebox, Play Us a Country Song.