Jason Aldean Biography
The Macon, Georgia native wrapped up 2008 on a high note. Aldean’s debut of “She’s Country,” the first single off the forthcoming CD and now the fastest-rising single of his carreer to date, was introduced with a lights-out performance on the CMA Awards in November.
Upon hearing the lyrics and energy in the demo of “She’s Country,” Aldean knew it would be a great fit for his live show. “When we got in the studio and played it for the first time, it flew out of the speakers!” he exclaims. Written as a southern shout-out to all the country girls, the song champions the big guitars and solid backbeat that form the nucleus of Aldean’s signature sound. It also gives fans a taste of what lies in store on the rest of the album.
As the title implies, Wide Open celebrates the unlimited opportunities life offers, while recognizing the all-too-familiar speed bumps along the way.
“Wide Open is the only way I know how to live,” explains Aldean. “I don’t do anything half-ass, and you never have to guess on where I stand on things. I’m pretty much an open book. I understand there may be hitches along the way, but if I’m in, I’m in no matter what.”
Aldean kicks in to the title track with a heavy percussive drone of dual guitars riffing respectively in stereo. The song tells the story of a young waitress biding her time at a diner until she comes up with a better plan.
“I like the underlying meaning of this song, that the world’s wide open and the possibilities are endless,” Aldean says. “I also like the line in the chorus, ‘Slingin’ eggs and bacon with a college education,’ because it is really vivid description of the situation she’s in. She’s doing what it takes to pay the bills for the moment, but there’s something bigger waiting on her.”
During the song-selection process for the album, Aldean’s own experience of leaving his small hometown to follow big-city dreams is what drew him to several songs co-written by hit tunesmith Neil Thrasher.
“Neil came to the table with a lot of cool stuff, and I consider him to be a good friend, who really knows me, and one of the best writers in Nashville,” says Aldean, who co-wrote “Keep the Girl” with Thrasher and Wendell Mobley.
“Keep the Girl” offers a different spin on freedom and the price of chasing dreams. “When we were writing this song, I put myself in the frame of mind of when I was leaving Macon and moving to Nashville while dating my wife, so it’s definitely autobiographical,” recalls Aldean. “It’s hard, because there’s this one thing you love that you want to do, but if you do it, your jeopardizing something else you love, and it’s like, ‘Why can’t I have both?’”
In contrast to its title, “Fast” is a slow, bittersweet retrospective of a young man’s transition from the life he once knew to one marked with uncertainty. “A lot of me is in this song,” explains Aldean. “When I left home for Nashville, I left behind friends, family and the places where I grew up. Even though I was only five hours down the road, it felt like I was leaving and never coming back.”
With a riff-driven, mid-tempo groove, “This I Gotta See” serves as a soundtrack for the rural scenery in the verses, setting up a power chorus that vividly describes the woman any man would like to have waiting for him. Aldean muses, “I can relate to everything this song talks about, especially when I’ve been on the road a lot.”
Aldean unleashes a full-on guitar assault for “Crazy Town,” a burning love/hate letter to Nashville from all the dreamers. “For any musician who has ever come to this town and tried to make it in the music business, I think this song sums it up,” he remarks. “When I think about all the crazy times I had after I moved here—trying to get a record deal, being told no, and now being able to look back on it and know that I was right about a lot of those things—it makes me so proud of what I have accomplished.”
Every guy in a relationship will appreciate the message in “Don’t Give Up on Me,” a heartfelt ballad from a man who asks for patience while he works to correct his character flaws. “I’m the voice of all the men in America with this song,” jokes Aldean. “As guys, a lot of times we don’t really do and say all the things we probably should, and this song addresses that.”
Continuing the journeyman theme of Wide Open, Aldean chronicles life on a metaphorical road with “On My Highway.” Written by longtime friend and former bandmate Justin Weaver, along with Brett James and Kelly Archer, the reflective lyrics intertwined with lonesome steel guitar passages make this one of Aldean’s favorite songs on the album. “It’s just a really well-written song that talks about the ups and downs you go through in life, including the curves you are thrown, but at the end of the day, you’re living.”
The simple, carefree days of a young couple starting out are longed for in “Love Was Easy,”
“Sometimes, you look back to when you didn’t have a lot of responsibility other than to go to class and deciding what party you were going to hit on Thursday night. But once you’re married, you start making house payments, car payments, then kids come along, and couples don’t make time for themselves. For all those who are married and going through the headaches of everyday life, this is their song.”
A modern-day carriage ride is sent up southern style in “Big Green Tractor,” a quirky love song co-written by David Lee Murphy and Jim Collins. “David Lee has been a friend of mine for a while, and I’ve cut his songs on the last two albums,” Aldean explains. “Before we went in to finish Wide Open, he sent over this song and it just hit me ... a country boy’s chariot for his lady!”
The hidden anguish men deal with after a painful breakup is uncovered in “Truth.” This poignant ballad recognizes the need to come off strong while maintaining one’s sanity. “This is one of those songs that I heard the first time and knew I wanted to cut,” says Aldean. “Anybody who has had a relationship go bad can relate to this song.”
Though known for his unapologetic, southern-rock style, Aldean’s musical influences also reflect the more traditional end of the spectrum. In that vein, “The Best of Me” serves up the classic ingredients for the quintessential country song. Bourbon, strong memories, steel guitar and a mournful melody combine in this plaintive ballad.
“One of the lines in the song says, ‘I remember it all too well, riding 441 down to Milledgeville,’ a highway that happens to lead out of Macon,” Aldean notes. “It’s a traditional-sounding song for the record, and I thought it was very visual—the fact that it talks about my hometown was just an added bonus.”
A self-professed Alabama “super fan, almost borderline stalker” Aldean revisits his roots by paying homage to the Fort Payne legends, offering his take on their ’80s hit “My Home’s in Alabama.”
“This is actually the first song I learned to play on guitar,” Aldean explains, “And in some ways, I feel like it chronicles my life. Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry wrote this song back when they were playing clubs. It talks about being a kid, growing up and playing in the bars, and not really understanding everything that’s going on.”
In a fortuitous twist, Aldean’s new Broken Bow Records labelmate is none other than Owen, who makes a guest appearance on vocals. “Randy is probably my biggest influence,” Aldean says, “so to have him be a part of this record is just about the coolest thing that has happened to me in my career.”
The modern, aggressive country sound of Wide Open, as well as Jason Aldean and Relentless, can be attributed both to producer Michael Knox and Aldean’s touring band, who infuse Aldean’s live sound into the studio recordings, melting the two into an unstoppable force his fans have come to recognize with the first note.
“I’ve worked with Michael Knox for 10 years. We’re great friends and he has a real good idea of the kind of songs I like,” Aldean says. “We took about a year to find all the songs and record them between gigs. We were able to keep the sound we created together consistent by using my live band in the studio. We almost read each other’s minds.”
With a calendar full of dates and a power-packed set anchored with hits and highlighted by new material, Aldean is ready to hit the road with superstars including Keith Urban and Toby Keith and live every day the only way conceivable —wide open!