Alan Jackson's new album, Where Have You Gone, is out Friday

By Eric Todisco
May 13, 2021 03:15 PM
Advertisement

Alan Jackson was inspired by none other than Justin Timberlake when creating a piece of his new music.

In PEOPLE's exclusive look at the new episode of Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen, airing Friday at 8 a.m. on Apple Music, Jackson, 62, sat down with host Kelleigh Bannen to discuss his 16th studio album Where Have You Gone, out Friday. The album features a number of new singles including "Back," which the country legend revealed was inspired by one of Timberlake's most beloved songs, "SexyBack."

"It started as a joke, really, I don't know, several years ago," said Jackson. "I don't know about the other music so much, but my kids were talking about that Justin Timberlake had this "bringing sexy back" song and they were just laughing and talking about it. And I hadn't even heard it and they were just laughing, and I said, 'Well, I think I'm going to write one about [how] I'm going to bring country back.' "

Jackson went on to say that while he was initially "teasing" about creating a country song inspired by "SexyBack," pressure from his kids led to him actually writing the song.

"I didn't write it from a position that I'm going to bring country back," Jackson explained. "I think it was just more of a fun song and I ended up taking all these memories, visual memories of things that I remember growing up in the South in a small town, which is so relatable to country music." 

Alan Jackson, Justin Timberlake
Alan Jackson, Justin Timberlake
| Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images; Randy Shropshire/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Later on in the episode, the two-time Grammy winner shared to Bannen another story about his past involving Timberlake, 40.

"Talking about Justin Timberlake now, it just popped in my head when you were talking about young people loving that, a few years ago, somebody told me that there was a clip of him singing one of my songs," said Jackson. "I don't remember which one, 'Don't Rock the Jukebox', or something — I can't remember which song it was — on something when he was a kid."

(Timberlake actually performed "Love's Got a Hold on You" during his Star Search appearance.)

"Well he grew up in Memphis, you know he was listening to AJ growing up!" Bannen pointed out.

"You got a young generation when the '90s were coming along and he was at the time a young kid and he liked that kind of stuff, or at least that particular song," Jackson said. "But you just never know."

alan jackson
Kelleigh Bannen, Alan Jackson
| Credit: Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country
alan jackson
Kelleigh Bannen, Alan Jackson
| Credit: Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country

Where Have You Gone is Jackson's first studio album since 2015's Angels and Alcohol. In addition to "Back," the 21-song album features singles "Way Down in My Whiskey," "Things That Matter," and more.

"It's a little harder country than even I've done in the past," Jackson said in a statement to Rolling Stone last month about the new album. "Real country songs are life and love and heartache, drinking and Mama and having a good time…but it's the sounds of the instruments, too. The steel and acoustic guitar, the fiddle – those things have a sound and a tone…and getting that right, the way those things make you feel, that's country, too."

Where Have You Gone is out Friday.