“Here In The Real World’ was co-written by Mark Irwin and Alan Jackson back when Irwin was working as a bar back at the Bluebird Café. The café showcased 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.
With his job as bar back (a sort of assistant of the bartender), Irwin had the chance to meet a lot of publishers and other songwriters. It was the kind of environment he needed. The place was full of people who always do business networking and give everyone else an advice, letting them know who was looking for songs and which publishers were looking for writers. Thereafter, someone told Irwin about a publishing company called “Ten Ten Music.” It was a new company run by Barry and Jewel Coburn, a couple from Australia who had been in business for a year of two. Barry was managing several new acts and one of those was Alan Jackson.
Irwin started taking some of his compositions to them, and they liked what they heard. However, 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 fan, 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 break 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.
After Alan became one of country music’s biggest stars, he purchased a vacation house on Center Hill Lake near Nashville and named it “The Real World” after his first big hit. He had that inscription written in huge letters on the brick entrance to his home there. When Irwin heard that Alan had done that, he bought some paint, took it home to his house in Nashville and painted “The Real World” on his mailbox.[like_button]