I was still in a state of elation from an up-close-and-personal Mutton Bustin' experience on the dirt when the first chords of "Gone Country" rang through Reliant Stadium — a tune that set the tone for the rest of Alan Jackson's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert on Wednesday night.
Admittedly, the country singer factors significantly into my memory because, for one, he's always half-reminded me of a favorite uncle and, for two, Alan Jackson: The Greatest Hits Collection (1995) was the very first compact disc ever played through my boom box.
The twinkle in Jackson's eye and the twang in his voice seemed familiar and comforting at this performance.
I was 9 then, perhaps at the height of my fandom, but the twinkle in Jackson's eye and the twang in his voice seemed familiar and comforting at this 83rd Annual RodeoHouston performance — allegedly his 21st.
And though his hair is now more gray than those early days, Jackson's thick mustache, faded blue jeans and easy manner remained the same, and he was present and humble during his hour-long set before a crowd of 59,517, even as he recalled the innumerable records he had sold and the countless songs he had written throughout his career.
Perennial favorites "Livin' On Love," "Little Bitty," "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and "Chattahoochee" had rodeo volunteers and fans singing along, two-stepping in the aisles, remembering times past. So much so that I even considered "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" — songs that I normally despise — with some nostalgic reverence.
I'll just attribute it to the magic of a living RodeoHouston legend.