An old frame house, willow trees, a dirt driveway, a small garden--these are images that were ingrained in Alan Jackson as he grew up near a stretch of road known as the Dixie Highway. Those images have provided the origins for some of Jackson's biggest hits--songs such as "Livin' on Love," "Home" and "Chattahoochee." They're memories so vivid that they remain a source of inspiration on his latest album, Thirty Miles West.
Jackson has traveled far more than thirty miles from those small town beginnings in Newnan, Georgia--his music has taken him to the floorboards of the Grand Ole Opry, CBGB and Carnegie Hall, to stages as distant as Australia and Scandinavia, to performances in front of four Presidents. He's written and recorded songs that have celebrated and chronicled life since "Here in the Real World" put him on the map, finding himself in the elite company of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Merle Haggard as the only songwriters who've written and recorded more than 20 songs that they've also taken to the top of the charts.
Jackson named his first Gospel album "Precious Memories," but it took him until round two to get a song by that name on an album. His 11-song collection "Precious Memories Volume II" is in stores, and this time it contains the title track.
"Everybody was like, 'Why didn't you put "Precious Memories" on the first one?" Jackson recalls. "Truth is we didn't even sing that song in the Baptist Church. I don't even think it's in the hymnal. I love the song and we just picked that title for the first one and now it makes sense to do it, but it's kind of backwards."
As for the other 10 tracks on the album, Jackson says he and his wife Denise had some of the song choices made before they ever officially started making them.
"That first album was just a fluke," Jackson says of the now double-platinum album. "I made that thing right quick for my mama and so many people loved it. All I been hearing is, 'When you gonna make another one?' We just picked up where we left off with the last one with all the songs we had and tried to figure out a few more that would work."
In addition to "Precious Memories," the album includes "Amazing Grace," "He Lives," "There's Power in the Blood" and "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder."