By: Craig Shelburne

As last night’s taping of CMT Giants, Alan Jackson sat in the balcony of the Ryman Auditorium and watched his own band perform. The songs were familiar, of course, as friends like George Strait, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride and Lee Ann Womack serenaded him with his biggest hits. Even newer artists like Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift (who was born the same year Jackson released his first single) were on hand to pay tribute to the small-town Southern man. The show will debut on CMT on Dec. 6.

As is tradition on CMT Giants, Jackson sang a few of his own songs at the end. Fifteen years later, people still leap to their feet whenever they hear the first licks of “Chattahoochee.” My mind must go on auto-pilot when that song starts, because although I was singing every word, I was also looking around the balcony, and caught Miranda Lambert singing along, too. Funny. The show also features sincere testimonials from other famous friends, sprinkled among Jackson’s own stories and photographs. Whenever people complain to me that country music doesn’t sound like country anymore, I feel like I can always safely point them to Alan Jackson.



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