Alan Jackson Larger Than Life at Smallest Show in Years

Alan Jackson Larger Than Life at Smallest Show in Years

  • THE BOOT.COM - Posted Apr 20th 2010 12:20PM by Melinda Newman

Alan Jackson turned the Hotel Café, a hipster Hollywood nightspot usually reserved for alternative singer/songwriters, into the world's most intimate honky tonk last Friday (April 16).

In undoubtedly the smallest gig he's played in 20 years, Alan performed for 60 contest winners flown in from all over the country to commemorate his receiving the 2,405th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier in the day.

After posing with all the winners for individual photos, Alan and his eight-piece band squeezed onto the venue's tiny stage, running through nearly 20 songs -- or snippets of songs -- during an 80-minute set.

"This is like stepping back in time for me, playing clubs this small," Alan told the adoring crowd. In such a small setting, it was possible to catch subtleties impossible to catch in an arena: such as Alan nodding to a musician that his solo was coming up next or the sparkle in his eye when he sang one of his favorite songs he's ever written, 'Living on Love.'

Though the sound in the house was clear, the band and Alan were plagued by a muddy mix in their monitors. As they tried to work it out, a fan screamed "You could sing the ABCs and it would sound great." Alan just laughed, shrugged, and said, "Sometimes it sounds different where I'm at."

The relaxed singer couldn't keep the grin off his face as he spellbound the audience with the stories behind some of his most famous songs, including 'I Don't Even Know Your Name,' which he and the band call 'Toothless.' "Every time I'd see my wife's brother, he's say, 'I got this song idea for you: I'm in love with ya, baby, and I don't even know your name.' He said it for two or three years. I finally got so irritated, I wrote that thing."

'Don't Rock the Jukebox' came about after Alan and his bass player were in a bar in Virginia surveying the jukebox. Alan leaned up against the machine and it wobbled because on its legs had broken off. "He looked at me and said, 'Don't rock the jukebox'," Alan said, and with that, another Jackson classic was born.

Alan primarily stuck to his up-tempo hits, but honored a request to play a bit of 'Sissy's Song,' a tearful ballad written about a woman who worked for him who died in a motorcycle accident. "It's kind of a sad song for a bar room," Alan said, as he and his band figured out the chords.

Not known for expressing his emotions, Alan turned sentimental when revealing the story behind 'Chasin' That Neon Rainbow.' "I was thinking about this song at the Star [ceremony] and the opening line ["Daddy won a radio/tuned it to a country show"]. My dad worked at the Pepsi-Cola plant and he won a radio. It was the first radio we had in the house and now that radio is in the Country Music Hall of Fame."

His brought up his father again before singing 'Drive,' which he wrote following his dad's death. "I didn't want to write one of those crying and dying songs. I wrote this about some memories and how when I was young, all I wanted to do was drive."

Alan turned the Hotel Café into a dance party as he and his band ripped through Jerry Lee Lewis's 'Great Balls of Fire,' before ending the concert with the chugging title track to his new album, 'Freight Train.'