Posts from 30th January 2003

30
Jan 03

ALAN JACKSON – Drive

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 255 views

I don’t drive. I’ve never even taken a driving lesson. This in itself is not of any great interest, but it means that I rarely have the experience of hearing music I like in the car: when I do travel in a motor, I tend to be subjected to the listening choices of the driver.

But one night I’d been to a folky / country benefit show in Hammersmith with my brother. I went to see Emmylou Harris and came away wildly impressed with John Prine. In the car on the way back home to South East London, through Chelsea and onto the Embankment. I was long-term ill and feeling drained, desperate for my bed but with that over-tired awe of London’s wonderland. The brother flicks over to some dodgy country station.

I didn’t know what it was at the time, but they played ‘Drive’ by Alan Jackson. Modern-trad epic country: I couldn’t work out whether it was a come-to-me or a run-away song, but it didn’t matter. It sounded like the greatest, hackiest thing ever, sentimental, spot-on. Dry as dust, maybe not going anywhere much but moving anyway. For that moment, perfect.

More than a year later, bits of the song are still stuck in my head. The next day, the internet told me what the song was, but I decided not to buy it. I couldn’t — can’t — see how I could hope to get anything more from familiarity with the record. As Daniel Williams wrote on Tangents (probably at around the same time), it’s not often one remembers particular instances of listening to recorded music. I decided I wanted to hang on to this one.