Vintage Review – Alan Jackson’s “3 Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song”
A lot has been made lately about the prevalence of country music protest songs and the instances when certain artists speak out about the ills of modern country. Usually this acrimony is being sowed by artists who are on the outside looking in to the very top spots of popularity in the genre who might be looking to even scores or challenge the mainstream and the direction the music is headed.
But imagine a scenario where one of the very top artists of today, someone like Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan, wasn’t just actively not trying to be a part of the problem, but was doing things to troll the rest of the industry right under their noses while still holding one of those very top industry spots.
That’s what Alan Jackson did throughout his commercial career. And though at the time it was so easy to overlook his contributions, or lump him in as part of the problem during one of country music’s most commercially-oriented eras (he was one of the signature members of the “Class of ’89” afterall), the entire time Alan Jackson possessed an incredible self-awareness, an understanding of his place in country music history, and most enjoyably, a keen sense of humor on how to rib the industry while somehow staying out of harm’s way.
Many of Alan Jackson’s hijinks and protest moments are well-documented. There was the time he stopped down his performance of “Pop A Top” to launch into George Jones’ “Choices” after the CMA’s cut George’s performance slot short. There was the time at the 1994 ACM Awards that he directed his drummer to play with no sticks after producers insisted Jackson sing to a backing instrumental track. And then of course there’s his performance of the song “Murder On Music Row” with George Strait, which ultimately won multiple CMA Awards despite its anti-industry message.
But in the gaggle of Alan Jackson album cuts, he hid this awesome little gem of a protest song—subtle yet still so pointed and hilarious—it just goes to show you the smarts and self-awareness Alan Jackson possesses.
Written by Jackson himself, it was the last track on his 2000 album When Somebody Loves You. At the time, Jackson’s career could have swerved in a number of different directions. He’d won the coveted CMA for Entertainer of the Year back in 1995, but it was still very much in question whether newcomers like Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban would nudge Jackson and others out of the spotlight. Garth Brooks was getting ready to retire, and the Class of ’89 was getting ready to give way to a new generation.
But it wasn’t going to happen without Jackson putting up a fight. As “commercial” as the Class of ’89 era was, it was nothing compared to what country music was about to become, with nothing but 3-minute positive not too country up tempo love songs dominating the format. So that’s what Alan Jackson wrote.
It’s a little bit edgy, but softer than spaghetti
Weak yet redundantly strong
It’s a three minute positive
Not too country up-tempo love song
Well it’s the right amount of timin’, the proper form of rhymin’
A little guitar then it’s gone
It’s a three minute positive
Not too country up-tempo love song
There’ll be no drinkin’, no cheatin’, no lyin’, no leavin’
That stuff it just don’t belong
In a three minute positive
Not too county up-tempo love song
And of course because it was an Alan Jackson song, it still remained solidly country with Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Paul Franklin on steel guitar. There’s even a shout out to long-time Jackson producer Keith Stegall. “Hey, how much time is that Keith?” Jackson asks at the end.
Smart-assed and riotous, it got Jackson’s point across without sacrificing any entertainment value, and it offered a unique twist on how to challenge the adverse trends in country music without being a party to one himself by cutting just another boring and bitchy protest song. Put “Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up Tempo Love Song” right up there with Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes” for using subtly and slyness to get an important point across.
Alan Jackson would go on to see a huge resurgence in his career after early 00’s hits like “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning,” and was once again named CMA Entertainer of the Year in 2002 and 2003. And as he’d done throughout his career, he did it his way.
September 19, 2016 @ 7:55 am
“Dude is just way too songwriterly… no one will get it.” -Aldean.
September 19, 2016 @ 7:58 am
No joke I forget about him sometimes. But dang he is pretty awesome
September 19, 2016 @ 6:04 pm
I agree we need more Alan Jacksons true country
, original country gentleman humble and real
September 19, 2016 @ 8:00 am
Having your summer play with no sticks is too damn funny!
September 19, 2016 @ 8:03 am
September 19, 2016 @ 3:40 pm
Go on Youtube and check out the video of Nirvana playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Top of the Pops. They take the idea to the extreme.
September 19, 2016 @ 8:03 am
And for those that may have forgotten…This is why the world needs a little more Alan Jackson and a lot less Thomas Rhett.
September 19, 2016 @ 8:51 am
September 19, 2016 @ 8:12 am
I love his cameo at the end of Hank’s “I Ain’t Goin’ Peacefully” video where he said “Those golfs are hard to clean.”
September 19, 2016 @ 8:14 am
I still remember his “Gone Country” as well, which managed to be a radio hit despite skewering the fetish of country radio for former pop stars turned “country” musicians.
September 19, 2016 @ 8:25 am
Yes, and those same people used it as an anthem. Kind of like using “Born in the U.S.A.” at political rallies.
September 20, 2016 @ 11:27 am
He’s number ONE in my book and always will be. The epitome of the Libra with the iron fist in the velvet glove.
September 19, 2016 @ 8:14 am
My grandparents (who are both passed now) had this cd when I was a kid and this was one of my favorites looking back now this song still makes me laugh like it did when I was a kid
September 19, 2016 @ 9:00 am
Great, cleverly written song.
My only criticism of the otherwise wonderful “Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story” box set, was that it only contained radio singles and unreleased songs. So, many fantastic album cuts like this one were left alone.
By the way, Trigger, the Vintage Reviews are some of my favorite stuff you’ve done, along with the “10 Badass Moments” series. Would definitely love to see more of both in the future. (hint, hint) 🙂
September 19, 2016 @ 9:12 am
What I love about Alan is that he loves musicians enough to let them play.
God bless you, Alan!
September 19, 2016 @ 9:14 am
Everything Alan does is fantastic. One of the best country singers of all time.
September 19, 2016 @ 9:39 am
Alan Jackson is fantastic, always has been. The Bluegrass Album is one of my favorite country albums of the last decade, and he always has interesting people with him on tour. Saw him with Brandy Clark and Jon Pardi a few years back and good times were had by all.
One thing about Jackson is that he’s never been afraid to take a stand, but he’s not going to throw it in anyone’s face. Our culture as a whole could use more individuals like that.
Two Time Slim
September 19, 2016 @ 10:54 am
That Bluegrass Album is great! I love on the last track when he thanks all the players and folks involved. Can’t remember the last time I heard something like that. Class Act.
September 19, 2016 @ 9:50 am
I’ve never been a huge Jackson fan, but thought his last album Angels and Alcohol was excellent. He has gotten better with age.
September 19, 2016 @ 9:59 am
I always thought that was such a cute song — it makes a good point while being gently humorous and fun in its own right. 😀
September 19, 2016 @ 10:57 am
We didn’t know how good we had it when Alan was at the top of the charts…he is so talented and he made it look so easy–it was easy to take him for granted, I think. I was a fan for years (even a member of his fan club) and still consider myself one, even if I don’t listen to his music all that often anymore. Like Vince Gill, he never compromised his artistic integrity (well, there were probably a few songs here and there that were regrettable) for sales and continued fame and in time his huge contributions to the genre will be recognized.
September 19, 2016 @ 11:29 am
Will there be a review of george straits single?
September 19, 2016 @ 5:37 pm
I love George’s new song
September 19, 2016 @ 12:10 pm
You said it all Trigger …..and so did everyone else posting here. The guy is one-of-a-kind and stood apart because of that ……and NOT just for his musical talents . In that sense he belongs right alongside Merle , Hank ,Willie and the likes in terms of his writing abilities , his every-man approach to a lyric , his sometimes understated but ALWAYS emotionally on-the-money delivery and his appreciation for another writer’s talents . I know its his son-jn-law but have a listen to Adam Wright’s song ‘SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE ME ANYMORE’ in Alan Jackson’s hands . That is a marriage of lyric and artist very very seldom heard in these times.
I finally had the opportunity to see his show last year and man …he’s into it from the word go . Even had an intimate sit-down acoustic segment which suited the songwriter perfectly . Always was a fan …but as some folks here have mentioned , I’ve never been a bigger fan of AJ’s than I am when I listen to country radio’s current options . No comparison . Its a crime AJ isn’t on country radio with his contributions and his fan following .
September 19, 2016 @ 12:14 pm
Adam Wright is his nephew not son in law.
September 20, 2016 @ 1:01 pm
absolutely right Scotty ….I stand corrected .
I have THE WRIGHTS cd’s …terrific stuff and really holds up IMHO.
September 19, 2016 @ 12:52 pm
“So you want to be a rock’n’roll star
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
And take some time and learn how to play
And when your hair’s combed right and your pants fit tight
It’s gonna be all right”
pretty funny tune by Alan.
September 19, 2016 @ 2:35 pm
There’s truly more timely and fitting song that speaks to this era in mainstream country music than this one.
It isn’t even among his radio hits, but it seems like it has since sinewed itself into a cult classic. Rarely has a song been more prophetic and truthful than this one.
Fabulous review! =D
September 19, 2016 @ 4:45 pm
“We got four more seconds!” This was such a fun song; it’s always been one of my favorites from AJ. Between this, the CMA protest, and “Murder On Music Row,” he was on a hell of a roll right about then; all those events occurred within about a year of each other.
Another great vintage review, Trig. I’d love to see a vintage review of his Drive album when you get some time. To this day I consider it his finest work.
September 19, 2016 @ 4:55 pm
great song. Alan Jackson is one of the best country singers of the last two decades.
September 19, 2016 @ 6:29 pm
Any thoughts on the “Forever Country” song, Trig??
September 19, 2016 @ 7:47 pm
Waiting for the video.
September 19, 2016 @ 6:32 pm
Alan Jackson is one of the greatest all around talents country music has had. He writes most of his songs & plays guitar. It is beyond the pale that he puts out one of the strongest albums of his career, Angels and Alcohol, mainstream country radio pretty much ignores the singles off it.
September 19, 2016 @ 6:47 pm
I went to, and graduated from, high school with AJ, and he was as dry-witted and easy-going (and politely smart-assed), as he appears on stage today.
September 19, 2016 @ 7:42 pm
I liked Alan Jackson quite a bit, but I don’t hear any of the wonderful qualities that you allude to here. It’s just a dopey, self-indulgent bit of album filler. If I reached into my center console and pulled out this CD and stuck it in my car’s CD player, when this song came on, I’d surely hit the forward/skip button about five seconds in.
September 20, 2016 @ 1:09 pm
I don’t think its the ‘ song-crafting’ we’re talking about here LOS . Its the fact that its another solid , albeit tongue in cheek , example of how AJ stands for and says what he believes when it comes to the erosion of tradition in our genre . This guy should be on the radio until HE says he doesn’t want to be …not because some punk ” progressive” programmer says so .He has an almost unrivaled track record for traditional country hits , many of which were written or co-written by him , he has honoured the legends by recording classic material while creating country standards of his own , and he’s never strayed far from trad county narratives and themes . In fact , this guy should be given carte blanche on any country station anywhere just for writing ” Where Were You ” . Fuck country radio and the boneheads calling the shots .
September 21, 2016 @ 12:48 am
I liked his early albums and singles a lot–“Neon Rainbow,” “Chatahoochie,” “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Midnight In Montgomery” (even if the concept seemed to come from David Alan Coe’s “The Ride”). I thought his later material tended to get dull and to shy away from controversial issues. Not everyone has to be a social commentator or Johnny Cash, but too often, A.J. seemed to reduce the milestones of the late 20th Century to baloney sandwiches, “Rocky” movies and the “Six Million Dollar Man” and working on old cars. Even on “Where Were You,” he seems to assiduously avoid SAYING anything. (Though I suppose it will outlast “We’ll put a boot in your ass.,” which says something stupid)
I bought AJ’s most recent alum, “Angels and Alcohol. I like it, but I don’t presume to tell country radio programmers how they should do their jobs.
Heck, I listen to REK and Dale Watson and country radio NEVER played them, even when they WERE playing AJ.
September 19, 2016 @ 10:35 pm
Anyone else notice there are only 5 tuning pegs on the guitar in the photo at the top of the article? Photo shop error?
This is a fun, relevant article so, sorry to through in a non sequitur…or pivot to use a more trendy term.
A friend’s daughter is getting married early next year and he is looking for a good, country, father daughter song for their dance. I have a couple of ideas, but I’d sure appreciate recommendations from the knowledgeable readers. Thank you for your help. Sorry to change subjects…have to ask.
September 20, 2016 @ 4:55 am
Check out “Daughter’s Wedding Song” by Dale Watson, if your friend happens to like waltzes.
September 21, 2016 @ 10:37 pm
Thank you, Bertox! Adding this one to the list as well. Waltz would be my choice of rhythm…
September 20, 2016 @ 1:16 pm
”Anyone else notice there are only 5 tuning pegs on the guitar in the photo at the top of the article? ”
I’m pretty sure that sixth string has been welded , Christian . I’ve been temptd to do that myself many a time …lol
best father -daughter wedding song ” I Loved Her First ” by Heartland.
…..If I’d written that song I’d have put down my pen knowing my work was done and I couldn’t do any better . I don’t have a daughter but I can’t listen to this song and not tear up . THIS is what’s missing from ” country ‘ radio .
September 20, 2016 @ 1:20 pm
also , check out STEALING CINDERELLA by Chuck Wicks .
Interesting how the two aforementioned artists ( Wicks and Heartland ) recorded two of the most heartfelt country songs ever , in my opinion , and were almost never heard from again . Just musing …..
September 21, 2016 @ 10:36 pm
Thank you, Albert! Putting them on the list! Really appreciate your recommendations. By the way, are you serious about welding a string???
September 21, 2016 @ 12:55 am
As far as father-daughter (or father-son, mother-son and mother-daughter) celebrations (and also husband-wife), it’s hard to beat “Papa Loved Mama” by Garth Brooks,
September 21, 2016 @ 10:38 pm
Thank you, Luckyoldsun! Gonna put this one on his list as well. He should have a good list from which to choose!
September 19, 2016 @ 10:36 pm
“throw” not “through”
Tim from GA
September 20, 2016 @ 4:27 am
Wow Trig I had not heard this one until now. I love how he still manages to have 2 more than decent tele solos, and at least one solo each from fiddle, piano, and pedal….and go into half time on 3 occasions…in 2 minutes 56 seconds. Incredible.
Tim from GA
September 20, 2016 @ 4:33 am
Christian H, I don’t know about a father daughter dance, but my best friend did his mother-groom dance to Merle’s “Mama Tried”. Let’s just say he was divorced in about a year or less.
September 21, 2016 @ 10:39 pm
Well, Tim. Can’t say that I am shocked by that one. Good story! Thanks for sharing!
September 21, 2016 @ 2:08 am
Has to be in the top 5 best Country singers ever.
September 22, 2016 @ 4:17 pm
Thank God for Alan Jackson!