Alan Jackson Remembers His Dad With ‘Drive’ on PBS’ Independence Day Show [Watch]
Alan Jackson, Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Jennifer Nettles and Jimmy Buffett were all among the acts to hit the stage for PBS' Independence Day special, A Capitol Fourth, which aired on Sunday (July 4.) The performers all put their own spin on musical patriotism -- Buffett delivered a tropical rendition of "This Land is Your Land," for example -- as well as showcasing some of their own, Americana-themed original material.
For example, Allen treated viewers to his "American Heartbreaker," which comes off his 2018 Mercury Lane album, and Guyton dazzled as she sang her soaring ballad, "Without a Net."
But it was Jackson who had one of the night's most emotional, heartstring-tugging performances, as he dug back into the archives and pulled out his 2002 hit, "Drive (for Daddy Gene)," a tribute to the singer's late father.
"I'd like to do a song for you now that...[it was] quite a few years ago when I wrote this," Jackson explained before his performance, which took place on the stage of Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. "I'd lost my daddy and I wanted to write a song for him. I didn't wanna write some ol' sad, cryin', dyin' thing. So I started thinking about growing up, and all I ever wanted to do was drive something. He taught me all about that, and that's what this song's about."
The song's story line recounts the feeling of being young and taking the wheel of a vehicle for the first time-- whether it be "just an old hand-me-down Ford," a "plywood boat" or a "worn-out Jeep" -- with the careful guidance of his father. The singer's dad, Eugene Jackson, died in 2000.
Jackson returned later in the broadcast of A Capitol Fourth with a more traditional patriotic anthem: "America the Beautiful." Elsewhere during the show, Nettles performed "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'." Her rendition of the Oklahoma classic comes off the track list of her Always Like New album, which is a collection of American standards and Broadway hits.
In addition to the country contingent, PBS' A Capitol Fourth celebration featured performances from Cynthia Erivo, Train, Pentatonix, Gladys Knight and many more. The show, which marked its 41st year in 2021, honored those who serve in the military and their families. In addition to the music, the show delivered a dazzling fireworks display.
A Capitol Fourth aired on PBS and was broadcast on NPR stations nationwide, but fans who missed it can watch the full event on PBS' YouTube and Facebook channels now for a limited time.
WATCH: Country Music's Unforgettable Military Moments