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'You Can Always Come Home': Alan Jackson On Family And Bluegrass

Alan Jackson's <em>The Bluegrass Album</em> combines new originals with some staples of the genre.
Russ Harrington
Courtesy of the artist
Alan Jackson's The Bluegrass Album combines new originals with some staples of the genre.

Alan Jackson has achieved huge success in country music, but he's not above trashing his own industry. The platinum-selling star once voiced his frustration with the narrow range of country music that receives radio play by writing a spot-on parody — "Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song" — that hit all the mainstream marks on the nose.

Jackson's newest release, The Bluegrass Album, is exactly what its title promises: a collection of bluegrass covers, as well as some originals written in the style. The album kicks off with one of the latter, "Long Hard Road," which Jackson says nods to his upbringing in Georgia and the lasting advice his parents gave him.

"When I decided to leave and go to Nashville, that was just the craziest thing anybody had ever heard of in Newnan, Ga.," Jackson says. "[For] someone to just pack up and go way off like that, it was like traveling to Japan or something for us. And I think they were very concerned about it, but they also have always been supportive. ... Daddy always told me, 'Go up ahead and try it, and if it doesn't work, you can always come home.' "

Jackson spoke with NPR's David Greene about adapting the "high, lonesome sound" of bluegrass to his own low voice, and why he chose a fake name when writing a love song to his wife. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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