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2017 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony: 10 Best Moments

From Alan Jackson’s acceptance speech to Loretta Lynn’s first Nashville appearance since her May stroke

Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson was officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 22nd.

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The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum inducted its Class of 2017 ­– Alan Jackson, Don Schlitz and Jerry Reed – at its annual Medallion Ceremony at the museum’s CMA Theater in Nashville Sunday night. Loretta Lynn presented superstar Jackson with the Hall’s Modern Era honor. Vince Gill gave “The Gambler” songsmith Schlitz the Hall’s Songwriter honor. And Bobby Bare paid tribute to his late friend – session guitarist, singer-songwriter, beloved character actor and all-around renaissance man Jerry Reed – who received the Hall’s Veteran Era honor. Between the heartfelt speeches and performances from George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Aloe Blacc and others, the ceremony boasted many memorable, often emotional, moments. Here’s the 10 best.

Alan Jackson

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Alan Jackson Goes Long

A glowing Alan Jackson joked of his reputation as a man of few words – “I’m not really shy, I’m just kind of socially awkward,” he said – at the top of an uncharacteristically lengthy acceptance speech that brought laughs and left wet eyes across the house. Over the course of 13 minutes, and in his plainspoken, wise man’s baritone, Jackson recalled how Nashville radio legend Gerry House used to lovingly make fun of lines like “‘Til the transom got rotten,” a boat-parts reference on Jackson’s 2002 country Number One “Drive (For Daddy Gene).” “That’s what I know and that’s what I write about,” the singer, and former car salesman, said. “I came to Nashville to be a singer because I loved cars and I couldn’t really buy any.” Jackson recognized the roles fellow legends and friends from George Jones to Randy Travis had on influencing him when he started his career in 1985 as bar busker and demo singer, before going on to sell more than 60 million albums. He also recalled the CMA’s response to his infamous 1999 awards appearance, when he went off script with an unplanned performance of Jones’ “Choices,” in response to Jones only getting 90 seconds of TV time on the broadcast. “They told me when I sang that ‘Choices’ thing I’d never be back on the CMA again,” Jackson recalled with a humble grin.

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Don Schlitz Brings the Crowd to Its Feet

It’s no surprise that a man being honored for his skills as a wordsmith delivered an acceptance speech bursting with quick wit and dripping with sage, warm-hearted honesty. But the best moment of said speech wasn’t when Schlitz opened it with a killer one-liner – “They didn’t leave out the L,” he said upon seeing his Hall of Fame plaque. It came when he asked for everyone in the room who’s ever written a song for him to stand, then asked anyone who’s performed one of his songs to stand, followed by the same request to industry folks, musicians, DJs, producers, etc., who represented or worked on those songs, until ultimately asking all songwriters in the room and their advocates to stand. Naturally, the entire room was on its feet.

Lee Ann Womack

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Lee Ann Womack Silences the Room

“I’m a singer of simple songs,” Alan Jackson famously sang on “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Of all his hit ballads, perhaps none says more with less than the title track of his 1990 breakthrough LP Here in the Real World. Captivating with a pin-drop vocal performance, Lee Ann Womack reinforced the song’s timelessness. “Real World” sounds like it could have been born in any era of country music, but its theme – coming of age by way of accepting the wrenching reality that things hardly ever work out the way they should – says as much today as it ever has.

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