“The older I get,” muses Alan Jackson, “The more I think/You only get a minute, better live while you're in it/'Cause it's gone in a blink.” Wise words, even if the multi-million-selling country music hero has only just turned 59. “And if they found a fountain of youth,” he goes on, “I wouldn't drink a drop and that's the truth/Funny how it feels I'm just getting to my best years yet.”
The lyrics are on his brand new track 'The Older I Get,' released on 20 October and timed to mark his induction two days later into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The reflective sentiments could be autobiographical, and while the charmingly traditional new song was written by Adam Wright, Hailey Whitters and Sarah Allison Turner, it was Jackson who suggested a little lyrical uplift.
"This song reflects a lot of how I feel these days,” says Jackson. "It's a good song. I really liked it, but the message was a little different when I first heard it. I thought maybe it could be a little more positive about being older and wiser and more content, so they rewrote a few things, and this is how it ended up."
'The Older I Get' is the first taste of what will be Jackson's next album, due in 2018 as his 21st studio set and the follow-up to 2015's Angels and Alcohol, which featured this lead song, 'Jim and Jack and Hank':
Ahead of that, Jackson had released his first bluegrass set, 2013's The Bluegrass Album, which included his own composition 'Blue Ridge Mountain Song':
The new track, and the induction into country's hallowed inner circle, are the latest chapters in an incredible career, in which the native of Newman, Georgia has amassed estimated worldwide sales of 80 million records. His 15 Country Music Association Awards include three for the genre's most prestigious title, Entertainer of the Year, in 1995, 2002 and 2003, and his catalogue of hits includes such absolute staples of the format as 'Don't Rock The Jukebox,' 'Gone Country' and 'Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).'
Once Jackson hit his stride with his subtly updated brand of country tradition, there was no stopping him. His first substantial hit, 1990's 'Here In The Real World,' and the following year he scored three straight No. 1s, with 'I'd Love You All Over Again,' the aforementioned 'Don't Rock The Jukebox' and 'Someday.'
Those No. 1s continued all the way through the 1990s and 2000s, and in more recent years, Jackson has topped the charts as a featured artist with the Zac Brown Band, on 2010's 'As She's Walking Away,' and as one of the featured legends collectively called Artists of Then, Now & Forever on 2016's 'Forever Country,' created to mark the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards. He will perform on the 51st awards show, which takes place on 8 November at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Meanwhile, he isn't taking his new Hall of Fame induction lightly. Honoured alongside Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed, he told Rolling Stone Country: "Even though I've done a lot, I still don't feel quite worthy, but I feel like it's an honour to qualify for what it requires to be in here with these great people.”