The Story Behind The Song: ”Here In The Real World”

Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson

Would-be songwriter Mark Irwin had obtained a job at Nashville’s Bluebird Café upon his arrival in Music City, and was working a very menial job as a “bar back,” kind of the bartender’s assistant, which meant that he would clean glasses, keep the bar stocked, wipe the tables, etc. Irwin did this for two years, then finally was promoted to the position of head bartender. That’s when he first met Alan Jackson.

The Bluebird Café was a showcase for many of the newer country music acts that were trying to make it in the music business, and many of the industry’s executives frequently showed up there. Being a bartender gave Irwin an opportunity to meet a lot of publishers and other songwriters. In that environment, everybody was always networking and giving everyone else advice, letting them know who was looking for songs and which publishers were looking for writers and that kind of thing. Then someone told Irwin about a publishing company called “Ten Ten Music.” It was a fairly new company run by Barry and Jewel Coburn, a couple from Australia who had been in business in Nashville for a year or two. Barry was managing several new acts and one of them was Alan Jackson.

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