Irwin started taking some of his compositions to them, and they liked what they heard. The Coburns didn’t hire Irwin as a staff writer, but they did allow him to bring in material on a song-by-song basis. If they liked the song, they would write up a contract, pay for the demo and start pitching it. One night, Irwin was over at the Coburns for dinner and they introduced him to Alan Jackson. An idea was formed that the two try to write songs together. They got together the next day for their first writing session.
Irwin had always been a big movie buff, particularly when it came to movie trivia. So they were sitting around trying to come up with ideas. Then, out of nowhere, Alan hit a D chord on his guitar and started singing “Cowboys don’t cry and heroes don’t die…” and Irwin immediately thought of a movie concept to go along with Alan’s first line. Once that happened, “Here In The Real World” came together quickly, in only about 45 minutes. As most songwriters will tell you, the thing that takes up most of the time is coming up with the basic idea. Once you figure out the theme – what you want to write about – the song usually comes out pretty fast after that.
Barry Coburn took Jackson around to several labels in town, but couldn’t broker a deal for him. Then he found out that Tim DuBois had been signed to head Arista Records’ Nashville division, so he took Alan over there and Jackson got his record deal. Alan played Tim all of the tunes he had written, and DuBois was especially enamored with “Here In The Real World.” It was recorded, mastered and released as a single in short order, becoming Jackson’s first Top Five hit, peaking at #3.