Alan Jackson talks Nashville, music

Written by Gayle Jo Carter/USA

Grammy winner, Alan Jackson is on tour now for his new CD, Thirty Miles West.

The country star, 53, is also a licensed pilot and family man. Of his marriage to high school sweetheart, Denise, Jackson says: “We’ve been through a lot together. As you get older, what I appreciate is that history.”

Read on for more from Jackson on his family, summertime in Nashville and country music favorites.

On having only daughters: “It’s like second nature to me. I grew up with four older sisters and I was the only boy; all I’ve ever been around was girls. I think it would have been unnatural for me to have a son in the house. I love my daughters,” Jackson says of Mattie, 22, Ali, 19, and Dani, 15. “When I get real old, they’ll take good care of me.”

Favorite shows: In the mid-90s, Jackson used to set up a lake show outside his house in Nashville: “People could come by boat. It was free, just a good-natured thing. We had thousands of boats out there. They’d anchor a day or two in advance; they’d just be waiting,” Jackson says. “We had Shania Twain, when it was her first year. She hadn’t even toured yet. She came out in a pair of overalls [with] a couple of acoustic players and played. The crowd was so excited to see her for [the] first time.”

Summertime on the lake: “We’ve had a lake home for years. [It’s] where I feel really content [when] it’s late in the summer and they’re there and everybody’s just enjoying this lifestyle I’ve been fortunate enough to create for them and do the things I did growing up. I really still love that.

Must have on the road: “Other than Jack Daniel’s, there’s not much else you can take out there. I’m pretty easy, I’m not one of these artists who [has] to have all red M & M’s or something in my dressing room. I don’t care what food is on the bus.”

Song to perform: “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) is such a powerful song, I’ve seen people get up and leave after that song is over because they’ve been waiting for it,” Jackson says, about his memorable tribute to September 11. “ Something I have to do every night that’s fun, that song Chattahoochee, I did years ago. It’s just a lighthearted song.When I kick it off, people love that, and I’m talking about kids that are too young to have been around when it came out and people older. It connects with people, and I don’t get tired of playing it.”
Place to write a song: “Most of my better melodies and ideas seem to come [when] I drive,” Jackson says. “In the Nashville area I have a routine, which takes me down quiet country roads where nothing is going on. I don’t have music on; my old cars don’t have radios worth listening to. [It’s] quiet and that’s when a lot of my best melodies and ideas come to me.”

On making music:
“I’ve kept my music pretty much as it always was and that’s the reason I came to Nashville: To make real country music,” Jackson says . “It’s [country music] becoming less and less that type of music . I’m glad I was able to keep mine real and have it work all these years.”

Favorite new music: “The Band Perry — they’re writers. That first song about dying too young [If I Die Young] and that girls voice, she’s [Kimberly Perry] unique and a great singer, the real deal. They played on the road with me,” Jackson says. Zac Brown Band. “He and I have done some stuff together. I really respect Zac and his band; they’re real musicians. I’ve always been a fan of Miranda Lambert.”

What’s on his iPod: “My girls gave me an iPod and they downloaded all this old stuff I like and new stuff,” Jackson says. “But I don’t use it that much, I don’t like having those things in my ears.”

Flying freedom: Jackson has his pilot’s license. “When I started flying to work, I got interested in watching [the pilot who flew me] and he taught me. At that time, we had a farm with a pretty big grass strip and I had a plane with amphibious gear, so I [could] land on water, the lake. [I] just kind of flew around Nashville. I still have my license, I just don’t fly. Denise got tired of my flying and worrying about me.”