Remembering Jeff Carson: 5 Essential Songs from His Country Music Career
During the 1990s, country music was dominated by a new generation of talented artists ready to make their mark on the genre. Jeff Carson's rise to stardom arrived halfway through the decade with the release of his self-titled debut album and the heartfelt single "Not on Your Love," which became the singer-songwriter's first and only No. 1 hit.
Born Jeffrey Lee Herndon on Dec. 16, 1963, in Tulsa, Okla., the country talent's path to success began early. After learning to sing in church as a child, he relocated to Arkansas and formed his first band. He later made his way to Branson, Mo., and continued honing his musical talents before finally moving to Nashville.
During the early 90s, Carson made a living by recording demo tapes, lending his voice to songs that would later become massive hits for other artists. Among those tracks were "I See It Now," recorded by Tracy Lawrence, Faith Hill's "It Matters to Me," and Mark Wills' "Places I've Never Been."
After "Not on Your Love" skyrocketed Carson to the top of country radio, his streak of success continued with the follow-up single "The Car," which won the Academy of Country Music Awards trophy for Video of the Year.
Over the course of his country music career, Carson took 14 songs onto the Billboard charts and continued to actively perform and record until he chose to retire from music in 2009. He started a new chapter in his life, becoming a law enforcement officer with the Franklin Police Department in Tennessee, just south of Nashville.
Ten years later, in 2019, he returned to his roots, releasing a new version of his song "God Save the World." Carson was planning to release a duets album featuring collaborations with various country talents, including Michael Ray, Darryl Worley and Craig Morgan, sometime in 2022.
Sadly, those plans wouldn't come to fruition. On March 26, 2022, Jeff Carson died of a heart attack at the age of 58. His loss was a gut punch to the tightly-knit country music community, but his impact and music live on.
Let's look back at the Jeff Carson songs that have made a lasting mark on the genre.
"Not on Your Love"From: 'Jeff Carson' (1995)
Penned by Tony Martin, Troy Martin and Reese Wilson, the romantic ballad "Not on Your Love" was the track that changed Jeff Carson's life forever. Released in 1995 as the second single from his debut record, the sweeping track made it all the way to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and No. 2 on the Canadian country radio chart.
"The Car"From: 'Jeff Carson' (1995)
It's hard to follow up a track as immensely successful as "Not on Your Love," but Carson kept his winning streak going with "The Car." Carson's third single was a warm, heartfelt story-song that examines a special bond between a father and son. Penned by Gary Heyde and C. Michael Spriggs, the track was another radio hit, peaking at No. 3 on the country chart in 1996.
"Holdin' Onto Something"From: 'Jeff Carson' (1995)
This stellar co-write from Tom Shapiro and Thom McHugh was originally recorded by John Michael Montgomery for his self-titled record in 1995. The song stuck out to Carson, who recorded a rendition that became the fourth single from his own debut album. This sweet and hopeful ode to a love he can't quite hold onto peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 1996.
"Real Life (I Never Was the Same Again)"From: 'Real Life' (1998)
This cut from Carson's third and final studio album, Real Life, marked a triumphant return to the country scene after a five-year lull. In 2001, the moving song climbed to No. 14 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
"God Save the World"From: 'God Save the World (Single)' (2020)
The uncertainty and chaos of 2020 inspired Carson to rerecord his track "God Save the World," which he initially released in 2003. The track's message of hope and compassion took on new meaning for the singer-songwriter and sadly became one of the last singles of his all-too-short country music career.