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Alan Jackson Answers 11 Questions

Russ Harrington

After more than 20 years in the music business, Alan Jackson is still going like … well, a ‘Freight Train,’ which just happens to be the title of his latest album, released in March. He’s been on a tour of the same name for the past few months, alongside opening act Chris Young, entertaining crowds with a set list that spans his two illustrious decades worth of country hits. The Boot managed to catch the Georgia native on a rare day off for a fun chat about fishing, favorite vacation spots and his secrets to both personal and professional success.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

What I enjoy doing more than anything is, I have my little antique car collection, and when the weather is pretty I like to get out one of my old cars. I have a little route I run down in the country, down Nachez Trace Parkway. The loop down through there is just really relaxing, not much traffic. I turn the cell phone and radio off and enjoy listening to the car and riding through the country. I’ve been doing that since I was a teenager, and I still enjoy it.

What do you think is the best car ever made?

I’d say, because it’s an American car and because how it has held up for all these years, a Chevrolet Corvette. [It] was really America’s first sports car. That and the Thunderbird came out about the same time — in ’53. They are still building them today, still selling them. It’s as fine a high performance sports car as any Ferrari out there. They don’t get the attention as those cars, but are just as well designed or better. Most drive better and perform better than most of the cars that cost $300,000. They aren’t near that expensive and a lot of people can still buy them. I think that’s an American icon and will always be there.

What song did somebody else write that you wish you’d written?

I love that ‘In Color’ that Jamey Johnson wrote with [James Otto and Lee Thomas Miller]. That’s a good song, well written. Another song I like is that Taylor Swift song, ‘Teardrops on My Guitar.’ Some of the other songs are a little bit teenager for me, but [when I heard] ‘Teardrops on My Guitar,’ I didn’t even know who she was and I thought that was a good song.

What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Depends on if [my wife] Denise gets out of bed before I do or not … You have to take the dog out. When it’s cold, I try to stay in bed so she’ll get up first and take the dog out!

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

What would Denise say is your worst habit?

Probably just that I’m so obsessive compulsive. If I get something on my mind, I drive her crazy to get it done.

What is your favorite thing to do on a date night?

We probably have different ideas of that, but we do try to get out. We try to go to dinner or to the movies, or build a fire and have some wine. Other than that, I like going up to the lake and she likes going down to Florida.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

The biggest thing I’ve actually got to the boat would be a 650 lb. blue marlin. We released it. You can still have a mount made if you want, but you don’t kill them anymore. They pretty much all look the same, so when you bring them up, you calculate what size they are. You don’t take them in to weigh them because you’d have to kill them, but your boat captain can make a good estimate and they make a mold of him so it looks just like the fish.

Wow! What’s the secret to reeling in one of those big ones?

You have to have the right reel and technique. Get a big fighting chair and have a captain that knows how to move the boat around … You have to learn to let them go when they want to go and then get some line on them when you can and just keep fighting them until they get tired. Eventually you can get it in. We try not to hurt the fish. We bring it back up to the boat and try to hold onto it and relax and get water going through their gills again before you release them so you make sure they live. You don’t try to hurt them.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Pretty much anything chocolate.

What advice do you give people who want to get into the music business?

You have to be tough-skinned and willing to accept criticism, and at the same time, just try to do music that you like and you are proud of and not just whatever you think it’s going to take to get you on the radio.

Congratulations on your 30th wedding anniversary! What’s the secret to a successful marriage?

I don’t know. Every day is different; it’s a long road, I’ll tell you that. There’s been a lot of pot holes, curves. You’ve got to try to keep in touch with each other on an intimate level [like you did] when you were when you were young and dating, when you really liked each other [laughs]. Have some romantic time. You can’t just let every day life [cause you to] end up where you just live together. I don’t like to go to bed at night without Denise. I go to bed and watch television. I don’t go to sleep without her being in the bed.

Get up in the morning and drink coffee together before the kids so you can talk a few minutes, even if it’s about nothing. Spend some time together on your own, take romantic trips overnight or go out to dinner, just stay connected as a couple, not just as a parent. That’s going to help more than anything.

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