Alan Jackson's

"Everything I Love"

(Arista Records, 1996)

by Sandra L. Toney

It's no secret I love Alan Jackson! To me, he is the best thing that's happened to country music since Hee Haw went off the air. That's why I continue to be baffled by WHY he seems to always put at least one goofy song on each of his latest albums.

Remember "Tall, Tall Trees" and "I Don't Even Know Your Name?" True nightmares ... Jackson's latest album, EVERYTHING I LOVE, includes a new goofy song, written by Tom Hall, "Little Bitty."

Here are the lyrics for the chorus, "Well, it's all right to be little bitty/A little hometown or a big old city/Might as well share, might as well smile/Life goes on for a little bitty while." Even as ridiculous and irritating as I think the song is, there's something I've never told anyone . . . until NOW!

I keep hearing the song over and over in my head. What that means, unfortunately, is that the song must have something that's memorable or else why would I keep hearing it? Although I didn't think I liked the song, my subconscious won't let me forget it. I guess that means the song isn't that bad after all.

The rest of the album, however, doesn't irritate me (well, maybe the Alan Jackson/Jim McBride written song, "Buicks to the Moon" does a little bitty (SORRY, I couldn't resist), which is the third song on the release).

The title song, "Everything I Love," is classic Alan Jackson. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't written by Jackson, but by the duo of Harley Allen and Carson Chamberlain. The song opens with a convincingly solemn Alan crooning, "Coffee keeps me up and I can't sleep/And when I drink too much then I can't eat/Losing you has led me to believe/Everything I love is killin' me."

Those words most likely strike a chord in most of us who've loved something or someone who wasn't "good" for us . . . The album in its entirety is heavier and more sober than Jackson's previous releases. Such downers include "Walk on the Rocks," the title song, "Between the Devil and Me," and the tearjerker, "A House With No Curtains," which is one of my favorites on this latest Jackson collection.

The song tells the story of how love can die in a relationship, but the couple just keep hanging on even though everyone else can see the truth as if their relationship is a house with no curtains, "We still wear our rings/We still say I love you/We both play the part oh so well/But everyone knows/It's just a sad show/And we're only foolin' ourselves."

Hard to believe the same duo, Jackson and McBride, are the same duo who wrote "Little Bitty." Jackson final single on the album, written solely by Jackson, is one of the first "attitude" songs I've heard Jackson perform. "It's Time You Learned About Good-bye" finds an upbeat, spirited Alan Jackson turning the tables on the love who's hurt him one time too many as he belts out the following verse, "I've stood behind you/And I've laid beside you/But I won't do that anymore/'Cause I'm tired of bein' just here when you want me/Tonight I'm walkin' out that door."

As someone who owns everything Alan Jackson has ever done, I'm not sorry I bought his latest. If you're not a true blue Jackson fan, you could probably live without it. Of course, maybe a little bitty part of you will want to buy it anyway because everything you love is killing you . . .

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