On This Day: Alan Jackson Brings Country to Iconic Punk Rock CBGB Bar in 2002 Performance

by Matthew Wilson
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Alan Jackson and punk rock may not go hand and hand. But the iconic punk rock bar CBGB in New York City was the singer’s first stop in 2002.

The New York-based music venue was known for helping launch the careers of rock acts like Blondie, the Ramones, and Talking Heads. But Jackson brought a little country music their way when he stopped in the venue in 2002. It wasn’t the country singer’s usual scene. But mourning a national tragedy made strange friends. It was the first place Jackson visited in the city after 9/11.

Additionally, CBGB once stood for Country, Bluegrass and Blues. Before the venue became known for its punk rock acts, the bar intended to attract exactly the sort of artists like Jackson. Back in 1973, country artist Con Fullam was one of the bar’s earliest acts. But over the decades, the bar changed and began attracting punk rock fans.

Appearing at the venue, Jackson played music from his “Drive” album. Rather than face resistance, fans were happy to greet the singer at the bar.

“This is like deja vu for me,” Jackson told Rolling Stone. “This is the kind of place I was playing 10, 12 years ago … well, a lot nicer than some [laughs]. The kind of music that I make and the kind of entertainer I am I probably fit in better in a place like this than some of the bigger arenas that I play, where I just walk out there and sing. I’m just a singer and songwriter, but they try to put the lights and video around me and make me look exciting.”

Alan Jackson Honors 9/11 Victims

During his act, Jackson played his song honoring 9/11 victims “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” It must have felt surreal and haunting to play so close to where the World Trade Center once stood.

“When it happened, I was just floored by it,” Jackson said. “Like most people, I was just really devastated. I didn’t want to write or sing or do anything. Two weeks later, I wanted to write something. I didn’t want to write that patriotic song, but I didn’t want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day. That thing came from heaven, or somewhere [snaps his fingers] in the middle of the night.”

That tune would go on to rank among Jackson’s best songs.

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