Alan Jackson — “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore”
After lackluster songs like “It’s Just That Way” and “I Still Like Bologna,” it’s nice to have Alan Jackson paired up with top notch material once more. “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” his best single in at least half a decade, finds him willfully shouldering all the blame for a love that’s grown cold: “I’ll be the S.O.B./If that’s what you need me to be/So you don’t have to love me anymore.”
The song starts simply with piano and acoustic guitar before building to a climax that uses country radio’s weekly allotment of pedal steel. Jackson’s warm baritone wraps around the arrangement like a wool coat as he sings “I will keep all those memories of the good times…so when you think of you and me, they won’t even cross your mind.” In the hands of a lesser artist, Knowles and Wright’s (the pair also wrote “Tail Lights Blue,” which can be found on Freight Train) lyrics like “If you need me to make you cry/I don’t want to, but I’ll try” might sound as though the singer is melodramatically playing the martyr, but Jackson’s straightforward and unadorned approach makes plain that it’s a necessary, if heartbreaking, split for both parties in the relationship. It’s arguably his strongest vocal performance on a single since the equally stellar ballad “Monday Morning Church.” If “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” is evidence of the strength of material to be found on Jackson’s next album, it can’t be released soon enough.
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