Updated: May 22
Despite losing Keith Whitley in 1989, the following year proved to be great for Traditional country music. Several neo-traditionalists were leaving their mark on the genre like Clint Black, Ricky Van Shelton, and Joe Diffie. These voices, and several more were rising from the rubble, and making their way into our radio, and Television sets.
Just a glance at the songs that reached #1 on the Billboard Country charts in 1990, will show you exactly what I mean. But the charts are only half of the story. Waiting in the wings was a mainline Traditionalists from Georgia who borrowed more from the honky tonk stylings of the fifties than the pop tinged line dance amalgamations of the 70's.
Alan Jackson's debut album "Here In The Real World" highlighted a relaxed, and reflective vocal style we've grown to love for over 30 years now. The album spawned several hits, but it was song #9
that gave us a look into the early makings of a country music super star.
Home was one of three songs on his debut disc written solely by Alan Jackson. The music opens with a soft acoustic guitar, and a soaring steel. Alan Jackson wrote Home his first week in Nashville.
In a small town down in Georgia
Over 40 years ago
Her maiden name was Musick
Until she met that Jackson boy..
Those opening lines are the story of Alan Jackson's parents
Joseph Eugene Jackson, and Ruth Musick. They remained married until Daddy Gene's death in 2000. By then, they had been married for over 50 years. Eugene's father had a 9 acre farm, and gave his son some land to live on with his new wife.
She found her strength in her faith in God
And a love of family
This line clearly shares the foundational values important in the Jackson home. One thing you might not know is that Alan's early music experience was singing in church. His mother loved gospel music, and Alan learned to sing by hearing her.
Country music actually was not on his radar until a close friend introduced him to it. Something as small as this gesture changed the course of Alan Jackson's life forever.
And my daddy skinned his knuckles
On the cars that he repaired
He never earned much money
But he gave us all he had
He never made the front page
But he did the best he could
Folks drove the cars from miles around
And let 'em look underneath the hood
Possibly my favorite paragraph in the entire song. Alan Jackson has shared on several occasions stories about his humble country upbringing. One such story was about how Daddy Gene worked as a mechanic at the Hapeville Ford plant from 1964.- 1989. However it was what he use to do after hours that was more compelling.
Daddy Gene & Ruth Jackson
Daddy Gene had a backyard garage at his house in Newman, Ga, and would take on side jobs repairing cars for the locals. Often Daddy Gene's pay was a barter agreement. For example, he'd fix someone's car, and he'd get a tractor as a payment. When I first listened to those lines in the song my eyes welled up because my dad was also a mechanic. He worked as a Fleet Mechanic for Wells Fargo. He also used his skills to help out the church, friends, and family usually without any payment at all. Alan also shared that he never realized the impact his dad had until his funeral. Many people came to Daddy Gene's funeral like he was famous. Alan said the experience taught him that being kind to people outweighs money in the very end.
And they made their house from a tool shed
Grandaddy rolled out on two logs
And they built walls all around it
And they made that house a home
And they taught us 'bout good living
And taught us right from wrong
Lord, there'll never be another place
In this world that I'll call home
There'll never be another place
In this world that I'll call home.
Over the years the tool shed became the den,
and stood at the center of the Jackson family home. Though Daddy Gene was a man of few words,
home, hearth, honoring responsibilities, and working hard
were valuable lessons Alan learned early through Gene's example. Home was never released as a radio single in 1990- which I think was a huge mistake. It is however generally viewed as Alan Jackson's first tribute song to his parents. In the song he celebrates his small town upbringing, faith, family, and a simple way of life.
Listen to "Home" Now
"Home" served as the B-side of three singles released from his debut
"Home" was finally issued as a single in 1996
Home peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Song chart
Here In The Real World was certified double platinum in 1994