Jackson Dean’s “Don’t Come Lookin’” has quickly become the song that’s put him on the map, and it all started with “three chords and the stomp.”
While catching up with Music Mayhem and other media outlets, Dean dove into his background that involved working in construction and living in a shack, both of which had an influence on the artist he is now and the success of his current hit.
This single was co-written by Dean and Luke Dick while they were hanging out one day, trying to find the idea for a song. Suddenly, inspiration struck. They weren’t having much luck with their songwriting session, until Dean remembered something he used to say to his mom.
“We had this vibe of just, three chords and the stomp. I kind of just mumbled under my breath, something I used to say to my mom before I would a leave the house. I usually would run off in the woods for a little while or once I got my Bronco, I started really leaving the house and just peacing out. She would do the, you know, ‘stay alive no matter what occurs. I’ll find you,’ kind of thing. I was leaving to get away and I was just like, ‘ma. If I don’t come back here, just don’t come looking for me.’ I kind of mumbled that under my breath with Luke and he just whipped his head around. He goes, ‘what’d you say?’ I go, ‘if I don’t come back, don’t come looking for me.’ And he goes, ‘that’s what we’re doing today.'”
The hard-hitting melody and bold lyrics has taken Dean places he never imagined he would go, like the set of Yellowstone after finding out “Don’t Come Lookin'” would be featured on the popular TV show. “It’s been really awesome. I’ve been super grateful that it has done what it has,” he said humbly.
Not only is the song relatable, but it also motivates people to take that leap in life, whatever it may be, and encourages them to keep moving forward through the tough times.
“It’s heavy and it’s a stomp and people want something to go ‘hell to the yeah.’ I think it came in at a really great time.”
Dean added, “sometimes you need something with a stomp to kick you on down the road to do it, and epic guitar solos and head banging helps.”
His debut album, Greenbroke, follows that same theme. It embraces the mindset that things will turn out okay, but there might be a few bumps along the way. The Odenton, Maryland native’s life philosophy, “the fast move slow and just truly live while you can,” is strongly incorporated into his music.
“Time only moves forward, It doesn’t go backwards and neither can we. A lot of the driving motion of the tunes and the running comes from that. A good bit is just like, time only flows one way, and it’s just like riding a river. You put your feet up and go. No matter what, you just keep your feet out in front of you, keep your feet on the ground.”
Growing up around musical influences such as Waylon Jennings, Aretha Franklin, David Allen Coe, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, and Bruce Springsteen led Dean to create what he calls, “musical fusion.” He brought this term back from the School of Rock series.
“I think making records is like bringing a lot of different worlds into one place to meet, in terms of sounds, writing, styles, breakdowns and turnarounds,” he explained. “That’s why I use musical fusion, because you literally just fuse ’em all together.”
Much of his unique stylings as an artist began when he lived in his grandfather’s one-room shack. It was here that he began writing a lot of the songs that are featured on his debut record. Along with being the place to store saddles and bridles for the horse farm where his dad boarded race horses, this shack was known as the place to party for about 40 years, according to Dean.
“So it was my uncle’s room, it was my dad’s room, it was both my cousins’ room, my brothers lived in there,” he said. “There’s probably upwards of 10,000 signatures on the wall. It was just a really good place to be. It had a lot of mojo and it still does have some magic about it. There are not many kids my age, I think, that would willingly go into a one room with a wood stove and a mattress on the floor in the other corner and live there for two years and work.”
This room was great to hang out with friends in, but it also taught Dean a few life lessons that at the time seemed harsh, but looking back now, it was all worth it.
“You sleep in the cold a lot, but truthfully, I would do it all again in a heartbeat without question. It was such a good place to grow and let your mind wander.”
Much like his life living in that shack, the “Wings” singer strives to take the minimalistic route when making music and strategically includes his “underlying feelings.”
This year, Dean has served as an opening act for stars like Brooks and Dunn and Lee Brice, who he’s shot with, drank with, and even rode four wheelers with. “Every time I see him it’s nothing but good vibes,” Dean said about Brice.
He has also become pretty close with the country music legend Clay Walker. About two years ago, Walker shared some wisdom with the young singer that was previously given to him by another legend in the business.
“We were sitting on a store bus in South Carolina,” Dean explained. “He goes, ‘George Strait gave me this talk when I was about your age and now I’m giving it to you. ‘No matter what, you have to put this first, cause if you don’t, your family doesn’t eat. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself running, do it. Whoever has to go, whoever has to step in, make it happen. And just make sure that you keep your shit straight,’ is what he said to me.”
Jackson Dean’s next performance will take place on Saturday, July 23 at Faster Horses Festival in Brooklyn, MI.