Where Have You Gone
Over the course of his long, storied career, Alan Jackson has never particularly veered from his roots. From his 1990 studio debut Here in the Real World onward, Jackson has stayed true to traditional country music, earning a legion of fans who adore him for doing exactly that. Where Have You Gone, his first new album in six years, continues in that vein. “When I look at this album and its whole content, I don't think that it's much different than almost any album I've made,” Jackson tells Apple Music. “I've always had the same subject matter.” That subject matter includes small-town living (“Back,” “Where the Cottonwood Grows”), family (“I Do,” “Where Her Heart Has Always Been”), tossing back a drink or two (“Wishful Drinkin’,” “Way Down in My Whiskey”), and, of course, country music itself, as on standout track “That’s the Way Love Goes,” which pays tribute to the late Merle Haggard. Below, Jackson shares insight into a few of Where Have You Gone’s key tracks.
“Where Have You Gone” “I wrote it from this perspective as though it were a woman that had left you. I let people hear that song when I was finished and first thing they would hear is, ‘Oh, here's another heartbreak song.’ And they get to the chorus and it kind of flips a switch there.”
“Back” “It kind of started as a joke, really. I don't know, several years ago, I don't know about that music so much, but my kids were talking about how Justin Timberlake had this ‘bringing sexy back’ song. And they were just laughing, talking about it. And I never even heard it. I said, ‘Well, I think I'm going to write one about how I'm going to bring country back.’ Anyway, they kept asking me about it every now and then, so I ended up writing it. And I didn't write it from a position of ‘I'm going to bring country back.’ I think it was just more of a fun song. And I ended up talking all these memories, visual memories of things that I remember growing up in the South in a small town, which is so relatable to country music.”
“Where the Cottonwood Grows” “It just came to me one day. I was probably driving along, that's when a lot of them come. I just remember that hook coming up, and that melody, too, and I just stuck with it. Nowadays, it's easier with the phones, because I can record a melody real quick. Because it can be five minutes later, and I couldn't remember that melody again. I hadn't had an album in six years, and it wasn't intentional, just things kind of happened this way. I've had hundreds of little hooks and clips like that recorded on my phone. And when I started writing last fall, I kind of sat down and said, ‘How am I going to write for this album?’ Because I hadn't felt like writing for a while, but then I took all those out and I had about 200 of them on the phone.”