It’s a custom that the Country Music Hall of Fame’s new inductees pick who they’d like to officially welcome them into the genre’s most hallowed ranks. When Alan Jackson made his choice, he knew it was a long shot, since the legend he chose had been forced to take the rest of the year off to recover from a stroke she suffered in May.
But as Loretta Lynn surprised the crowd Sunday night at the CMA Theater in Nashville — aided by George Strait — the icon proved her powers of charm and wit are still intact.
“Now this is the first time I’ve been out of the house, Alan. You’re the only thing that would’ve brought me here,” Loretta explained as the audience laughed and applauded. “I love you, honey and I want to say congratulations, and I am so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re being… Hey, you should be here!” she added, interrupting herself.
“Loretta Lynn said I should be in here. That’s all I needed to hear, so now it’s official,” Alan quipped, after the Coal Miner’s Daughter placed the medallion around his neck to officially make him a member of the Hall.
Earlier, Alan’s tour mate Lee Ann Womack paid tribute to him by singing the title track from his first record, “Here in the Real World.” His one-time record producer, Alison Krauss, did “Someday.” George Strait made the trip from Texas to do the romantic “Remember When.”
Alan’s off-the-cuff acceptance was both heartfelt and funny.
“I wrote what I knew about, and that was cars,” the Georgia native said, looking back on his career. “My daddy was a mechanic. I grew up in a garage. That’s all I cared about. That’s the reason I came to Nashville to be a singer because I loved cars, and I couldn’t really buy any,” he deadpanned, as the crowd roared.
Jerry Reed and songwriter Don Schlitz were inducted into the Hall during the annual ceremony as well. Jamey Johnson revived Reed’s 1977 Smokey and the Bandit hit, “East Bound and Down,” before Bobby Bare presented the late singer’s daughters with his medallion.
Mary Chapin Carpenter offered an emotional take on Schlitz’ “When You Say Nothing at All,” before “Wake Me Up” hitmaker Aloe Blacc teamed up with Vince Gill for a surprise duet on “The Gambler.”
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