WATCH: Alan Jackson Reveals Which Country Legend Inspired His Hit Song ‘Wishful Drinking’

by Anna Dunn
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)

Alan Jackson just released his song Wishful Drinkin‘, but he couldn’t have done it without the inspiration of one country legend. The song is a part of his album, Where Have You Gone, which was released in March of this year. Jackson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. He wrote 15 of the 21 songs on the album.

Where Have You Gone is Jackson’s 21st studio album and his first album since Angels and Alcohol in 2015. Where Have You Gone received mostly positive critical reception, with Wishful Drinkin‘ being one of the 21 songs on the album.

Wishful Drinkin’ is a sad drinking song about someone who has made mistakes in a relationship. The singer tries to drink away his feelings of regret, wishing that he could get a second chance.

Alan Jackson Said ‘Wishful Drinkin’ is a Favorite

Jackson is taking the time to reflect on his own music, sharing stories behind his new songs. He posted a video clip to Twitter, talking about his process when writing Wishful Drinkin’.

“It’s one of my favorites on [the album],” he said of the song. “I don’t know where it came from. There’s no special story or real heartache behind it.”

So how, exactly, did Alan Jackson get the inspiration for the wistful song?

“I’m a big Gary Stewart fan,” he said. “I just loved his stuff.”

Gary Stewart may be best known for his song, She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles). The music legend, who passed away in 2003, was incredibly popular in the country music scene in the 70s and 80s. Now, Alan Jackson takes inspiration from the so-called “king of honkytonk.”

“When I started writing this it sounded like one of his old songs,” he said. “It’s not as good as one of his great ones but I just really wanted to cut that because I felt like it sounded like a Gary Stewart song.”

Stewart was a Country Legend of the 1970s

There’s no good discussion of 1970s country without mentioning the work of Gary Stewart. Stewart released his debut album, Out of Hand, in 1974 and gained popularity quickly. In fact, Out of Hand made #6 on the Billboard country album chart. He worked primarily throughout the 70s and 80s.

He constantly played with both the rock and country genre, sometimes called “Too Rock” by country fans or “Too country” by rock fans, Stewart wasn’t afraid to do his own thing. His final album, Live at Billy Bob’s, was released in 2003.

Jackson is far from the only country artist to use Stewart’s techniques and take inspiration from the artist. Stewart’s musical legacy has forever embedded itself within country music. His genre-bending work is truly a blast to listen to.

You can watch Alan Jackson talk about Stewart and the inspiration for Wishful Drinkin’ below: