Alan Jackson’s ‘Small Town Southern Man’: Story Behind the Hit Song

by Katie Maloney

Country legend Alan Jackson reveals the secret meaning behind his hit song, “Small Town Southern Man.”

Since releasing his debut single, Blue Blooded Woman, in 1989, Jackson has consistently recorded number one hit songs. “Small Town Southern Man” is no exception. The song is about what it means to grow up with country values. Jackson sings, “He was always proud of what he had. He said his greatest contribution is the ones you leave behind. Raised on the ways and gentle kindness of a small town southern man.” The song was released in 2008 and topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, giving Jackson his 23rd number one country single.

During an interview, Jackson reveals that there isn’t really a story behind the song.

“…But most of the time, I write what comes out or I have ideas I’ve scribbled down over the past year or two. I had ‘Small Town Southern Man’ written down, and I’ll just pick that up and start writing it. I don’t know that I sit down and try to designate each song for something special. Just write each one and pick the ones you like,” says Jackson.

Alan Jackson’s “Small Town Southern Man”

Alan Jackson Liked Wearing ’70s Sideburns

The music video for “Small Town Southern Man,” features Jackson donning full ’70s gear. Along with a studded cowboy shirt, Jackson sports mutton chop sideburns. During an interview, Jackson shares how he felt about the costume.

“I got to dress up sort of like Hank Williams Jr. from that era and kind of the ’70s-looking thing with the big sideburns and all that. That was pretty cool,” says Jackson. I’ve had a lot of comments about that – the sideburns, mainly, in that scene where it’s kind of real funky looking.”

During the video, Jackson changes garb according to the passing of the years. Similarly, Jackson says that allowing for a variety of different themes in his music throughout the years has been how he’s stuck to the essence of country music.

“I’ve always tried to mix it up on an album where there’s some up-tempo things and some mid-tempo kind of cool songs – some real love ballads that are pretty. Heavy broken-heart songs and drinking songs and just a little of everything. You know, that’s kind of the way country music’s always been,” he says.