Watch Alan Jackson Tribute Family and Freedom for the Fourth of July

Check out his rendition of "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" on PBS' 'A Capitol Fourth.'

Watch Alan Jackson Tribute Family and Freedom for the Fourth of July
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 07: In this image released on July 02; Multi-platinum selling country music icon and Grammy, CMA and ACM Award-winner Alan Jackson performs from Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for A Capitol Fourth which airs on Sunday, July 4th on PBS. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)

As one of the musical guests on PBS’ A Capitol Fourth celebration this weekend (marking the Fourth of July, 2021), Alan Jackson could have performed any number of his beloved country hits. But he chose to tribute family and the American spirit.

Performing live from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on a stage blanketed in red, white, and blue, Jackson delivered a touching rendition of “Drive (for Daddy Gene),” which he wrote for his late father.

Featuring a feel-good story about learning to drive — and then passing the experience down to his daughters — the song may not seem like a patriotic tune on first listen … but it captures something special. That adventurous spirit and the freedom represented by learning to drive is about as all-American as it comes, and the generation-to-generation tradition stirs images of being part of something bigger. Jackson’s Independence Day performance helped remind us of those things.

“I lost my daddy and I wanted to write a song for him, and I didn’t want to write some old sad crying, dying thing,” he explained before starting the song. “So I started thinking about growing up, and all I ever wanted to do is drive something. He taught me all about that and that’s what this song’s about.”

“Drive (For Daddy Gene)” hit Number One in 2002 and was included on Jackson’s Drive album. Later in the program, Alan Jackson delivered a more traditional patriotic anthem with a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and other performers included country stars Mickey GuytonJimmie Allen and Jennifer Nettles. They were joined by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Gladys Knight, Train, Pentatonix, Broadway stars Ali Stroker and Laura Osnes and more. The show was hosted by Vanessa Williams.