‘Pop a Top’ by Jim Ed Brown: Story Behind Song Made Famous by 1960s Legend and Alan Jackson

by Matthew Wilson

Both Alan Jackson and Jim Ed Brown are drinking away their sorrows in this popular song. Many people these days know Jackson’s version of “Pop a Top.” But Brown first made the song a hit back in 1967.

The song explores a narrator asking for another round of beer at a local bar. He encourages the bartender to pop the cap on his beer bottle. During the song, the narrator admits that he’s drinking to try to get a woman off of his mind. But based upon the song, he doesn’t seem too successful.

The tune was originally written and recorded by Nat Stuckey in 1966. But the songwriter failed to pop a top on the country music charts. Instead, it took Brown’s smooth sounding vocals to make the song a hit. Brown’s version of the song reached No.3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It also opened up Brown’s career to bigger and better things, turning him into a bonafide country star.

Alan Jackson Resurrects the Song

When it comes to music, everything that’s old becomes new again. Almost 22 years after Brown made it a hit, Alan Jackson put his own signature twist to the song. The tune was the lead-off single on his album “Under the Influence” in 1999. While not quite as successful as Brown’s version, the song was another hit for Jackson.

But Jackson’s version stands out most for its use in a controversial yet admirable CMA Awards moment. Both Jackson and George Jones had successful albums that year. At the CMA Awards, the ceremony refused to give Jones the adequate time to sing his hit song “Choices” at the ceremony. That tune had been nominated for Single of the Year. So Jones refused to attend the ceremony at all.

Jackson felt that the ceremony failed to give Jones the recognition that he deserved. While playing “Pop a Top” at the ceremony, Jackson instead performed an emotional rendition of Jones’ “Choices.” The move earned him admiration from the audience and a standing ovation.