Alan Jackson was one of the featured performers Thursday night during the CMA Music Festival show at LP Field, but he's not the only member of his family who enjoys the event.
"My daughters and their friends come out every night to it -- not to see me," he admitted with a smile during an evening press conference. "But they come to see everyone else."
Having been involved with the event since he released his first single, "Blue Blooded Woman," in 1989, he says it has changed quite a bit. "It's evolved tremendously since I first started when it was Fan Fair at the Fairgrounds. I remember signing autographs at that hot building. But that's what it's all about."
The singer releases his newest album, Angels and Alcohol, on July 17. Jackson wrote seven of the songs on the disc himself -- which has been the norm for a while. "I've been doing that for a few years now. When I got started on Music Row, I would write with different writers. Then, once my career took off, I was gone all the time -- playing a couple hundred shows a year. You weren't home long enough to wash your clothes. I ended up writing a lot by myself, and it just kind of stayed that way," he admits.
When asked if the title had any special significance, the Georgia native joked, "[My wife] Denise is the angel. I'm the alcohol. I didn't write it from a deep dark place. You'll have to hear the lyrics to understand, but it's one of my favorite cuts on the record."
Angels and Alcohol is Jackson's 21st studio release (including his Gospel and Christmas releases). With a catalog that big, fans often stump him about his own songs. "Sometimes, a fan will come up and mention an album cut, and I can hardly remember it. I've cut several hundred songs, and even some of the ones I've written, I've forgotten about."
It's a situation Jackson has been on the other end of too. "I wouldn't feel bad about that, but years ago, Merle Haggard did some shows with me, and we were all in awe of him. He was doing sound check, and the band and I were out there just drooling over him. We said, 'Merle, how about doing this song?' He sat there, thought a minute, and couldn't remember it, and it was one he wrote. I couldn't believe it. And, now, I'm the same way," he said.
Jackson was also asked about Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin' It Country, an exhibit currently at the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I'm so glad [the fans] get to see it. It's impressive. It surprised me when I saw all that stuff, and it came out of my house. I was so proud of it. Some of the things in it were gifts that fans gave me over the years." The exhibit closes June 21.
One fan who Jackson worked with during the recent CMT Music Awards was Steven Tyler: The pair appeared in a comedy sketch together. "I met him a few years ago when I was playing a concert in Boston," Jackson recalled. "He came to the show with his family. He's always been a fan of country music. He's a song guy. He's a character, always wide open. That's the way he was at the shoot. He's got a lot of soul as a singer and has a lot of energy. He's real genuine."