The Real Meaning Behind Drive By Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson's illustrious music career has been filled with chart-topping hits and accolades, and one of his most memorable projects was the album Drive, which he released in 2002. He scooped up a series of awards for the LP, including Album of the Year at both the Country Music Association Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, as per Wide Open Country.

One of the most moving songs on the album was "Where Were You" which was about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "I wanted to write something, but I didn't want to write some patriotic song," Jackson told Billboard in December 2001. According to the songwriter, the lyrics for that song came naturally. "I just sang it, didn't even play guitar. I just sang the melody and lyrics right into it and went back to bed," he told Billboard. "It just came out. I think it was a gift, and I'm just a messenger for it." 

Another touching song off the album was the title track "Drive (For Daddy Gene)." That cut reached the top of the Hot Country Songs Billboard charts in May 2002, and went to No. 28 on the Billboard Top 100, per Country Now. The video had animation over live action footage that included flashbacks to Jackson's youth. Those visuals earned the artist Video of the Year at the 2002 ACM Awards (via Wide Open Country).

Keep reading to find out more about the message behind Jackson's heartfelt song.

Alan Jackson memorializes his father with a metaphor

As hinted in the subtitle, "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" is an ode to Alan Jackson's father, Eugene Jackson, who died in 2000, per The Boot. Jackson told Billboard in December 2001 that he wanted to write a tune for his pops, but did not want the track to be "some sad dying song." He told The Boot that his father's funeral taught him a lesson because he learned how beloved his father was by the community. "I think I learned more about my daddy when he died more than I did when he was alive," Jackson said.

"Drive" has a clear message in its simple lyrics. "Daddy didn't say much, [but one of] the things he really gave me is my love for cars, and this whole song is a bunch of facts," Jackson told Billboard.

The track tells a story in three acts. In the first verse, a young Jackson recalls buying a secondhand boat with his dad. "It was 18 feet from the bow to stern light ... I rode up with Daddy when he went there to get her." Verse two re-lives the times Jackson drove as a kid with his father. "He'd let me drive her when we'd haul off a load," he sings. The third verse brings the family tale full-circle as Jackson lets his own children drive. "I'm grown up now, three daughters of my own / I let them drive my old Jeep," he croons.