Alan Jackson's new CD has hit song about Sept. 11

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Country music star Alan Jackson looks at his boots and skips a beat or two before talking. He looks uneasy.

"Everybody's going on and on about this new song," he said. "I can see how it could put the pressure on you to continue to try to write on a level like that.

"That kind of song doesn't come every day. It's divine intervention, I guess."

His new album, "Drive," was completed in a rush and released months early because of the demand for "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," his surprise No. 1 hit about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Everyone involved in his career -- manager, record executives, Jackson himself -- knows it's a special song.

The staunchly country Jackson has refused to strip the steel guitar from the song and release a pop version. It's rising on the pop charts anyway.

"It's one of those songs that's magical for some reason," Jackson said. "I'm lucky enough to be the man who wrote it."

His song differs from most of the others songs about the terrorist attacks because it's downbeat and not a patriotic rallying cry. It captures the shell shock of the nation.

"Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor/In a crowded room did you feel alone," Jackson asks in the song.

He woke up one October night with the chorus in his head. He softly sang it into a tape recorder, then went back to bed. He finished it the next morning.

"It's weird," he said. "I've woken up many times and had song ideas, but nothing that structured and that complete."

Upon hearing it, Jackson's producer, Keith Stegall, insisted that he record it right away. Two weeks after writing it, Jackson performed the song on the Country Music Association Awards.

Radio stations immediately started playing downloads of the song from the Internet, before Arista Records could release it. It has been the No. 1 country song for weeks. Both the studio version and the performance version from the awards show are on the new CD.

"Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" is Jackson's 28th chart-topping single since his first album was released in 1989.

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