Alan Jackson's introspective love song "Remember When" remains one of the singer-songwriter's most tender and truthful nods to the country music traditions he proudly upholds.
Produced by Keith Stegall, the song first appeared on 2002's Greatest Hits Vol. II. The brand-new composition was the second single off the compilation album. It was one of two new songs, with the other being Jimmy Buffett duet "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."
A music video directed by Trey Fanjoy helped propel it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It was the 22nd of Jackson's 25 career No. 1 hits.
Who Wrote 'Remember When'?
— Alan Jackson (@OfficialJackson) August 3, 2023
Jackson wrote the autobiographical song about the ups and downs of relationships as a tribute to his bride Denise. The teenage sweethearts met at Dairy Queen in their hometown of Newnan, Ga. and married in 1979. She's supported Jackson every step of the way since then, from early career struggles to his Country Music Hall of Fame induction.
To celebrate the song's 20th anniversary on Aug. 3, 2023, Jackson posted an audio clip about its meaning. In it, Jackson revealed that so many couples he's interacted with from his audience have called it "our song" because of its romantic theme.
A Legacy Artist's Lasting Hit
By the time "Remember When" topped the charts in 2003, country music had changed drastically from Jackson's '90s heyday. Suddenly, hits were hard to come by for traditional-minded artists, unless a song really spoke to the public. Fortunately for Jackson, his early-aughts output included a couple of songs that strummed the heartstrings of old-school and mainstream fans.
First came "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," a reaction to the 9/11 tragedy that put human sorrow ahead of politics. Jackson could've hung up his hat for good after the 2001 CMAs and fully deserved his Country Music Hall of Fame induction based off that night, paired with his prior hits.
Nationwide catharsis and a song about long-term personal relationships hardly compare thematically, but the same honesty and integrity that made Jackson's voice the right one to lament one of America's greatest tragedies helped make "Remember When" a relatable and still relevant No. 1 hit.
The "Livin' On Love" and "Chattahoochee" singer was as much of a traditionalist in his heyday as a Chris Stapleton or Margo Price are today. Fame was no compromise, forcing a Newnan country boy to go uptown. Instead, Jackson helped Clint Black and other famous peers bring back the great storytelling that once defined country music to the masses. Whether he sang carefree songs about the "Summertime Blues" or poured his heart and personal life into memorable lyrics, Jackson always served up something undeniably country.
With all of that said, take in the lyrics of one of Jackson's best songs and appreciate the candidness of perhaps the most moving Alan Jackson song.
Editor's Note: This story previously ran on July 10, 2020.
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