Quick Stats: Jimmie Allen, country singer-songwriter
Daily Driver: 2018 Ford F-150 (Jimmie’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trips: Delaware to Oakland, and Nashville to Disney World
Car he learned to drive in: 1998 Ford pickup truck
First car bought: Chevy Malibu
With no plan B, country singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen is an inspiration to people who have a dream. He got his record deal just a few years ago, in his eleventh year in Nashville, after having to sleep in his Chevy Malibu for three months to save up for rent when he first arrived.
These days, Allen is driving his first new car, his 2018 Ford F-150. Allen relates his tenacity to Ford and its famous slogan.
“Getting a record deal for me at the age of 32, after going through so much, it reminds me a lot of my truck and the Ford brand—Ford is built tough. And I feel like this music industry in order to keep going, you kind of got to be built tough, and find ways to keep going when so many people say you should give up,” Allen says. “You have to be strong in who you are as a person. You’ve got to be built tough as far as your feelings and not taking things too personal and being able to weather the storm of life, because life throws so many things at you that you don’t expect, but it’s about how you handle it.”
That’s what he loves about Ford and his truck. “Their logo is ‘Built tough’ and I feel like I found a way to stay tough, because here I am on my second single, and my first one went number one, and my third one’s coming out with someone that has a fan base and someone that people probably thought I’d never do a duet with, but here we are,” he says, referring to an upcoming single with Noah Cyrus.
Allen’s love of Ford also goes deeper, since his truck makes him feel connected to his late father. “What I love about Ford is growing up my dad drove a Ford. For me, all my favorite memories from childhood—going fishing, going to softball games—were in a Ford truck. It was super important to get one. And I get to think about my dad all the time, and they let me decorate it the way that I want,” he says.
Allen has his son’s name embroidered on one headrest, his grandma’s name on another. “I was friends with Troy from Montgomery Gentry, so when you open up the front door, Batman shines on the ground, because Troy was a big Batman fan. The truck is black and yellow. I call my truck ‘Troy.’ I had to do it,” he says.
Allen’s Ford connection started with a dealership in New Jersey, where one of his managers knows the family. “Then Ford proper came in and we did a video with my son and he’s got a toy F-150, so it started a whole relationship between Ford and myself. I have my truck in the video ‘Boy Gets a Truck.’”
Allen remembers his truck’s special meaning each time he drives it. “For me it was about the memories I have, with my father and my childhood, wrapped up so much in Ford. That was my main reason for wanting to get this particular truck,” Allen says. “My dad drove a Ford truck. They’re not the same truck, but it’s a Ford; it’s in the Ford family.”
The only thing he could nitpick about the truck, which has a lift kit, is that it takes a lot of gas to fill it up. “I’ve got to pay for gas,” he says with a laugh. “That’s it other than I love it.”
Car he learned to drive in
Allen grew up in Delaware, where he learned to drive in his dad’s 1998 Ford pickup truck. “I would drive on that, and my grandma had an Astro van. She worked nights. I remember being 15, when she’d leave for work, she’d leave the keys and so I’d drive around the neighborhood and drive down the street, pick up some friends and ride around,” Allen says of his grandmother’s white van. His mother also had a Chevy Astro, but in gray, and Allen only drove that one a few times.
Allen’s dad taught him how to drive. “Before I got in the car he said, ‘You know what a blinker is, you know where the emergency brake is.’ There were a few times he let me drive to softball games, he was in the car, he let me drive to the store,” he says.
But mostly his dad let him learn to drive on his own. “He just gave me the keys and said, ‘Go drive around the neighborhood and don’t crash.’ That was the kind of guy he was. Like, ‘Just drive.’ We lived in this development and it had a bunch of roads, so I’d just ride around in that, I’d bring it back. He’d say, ‘Good, you didn’t crash.’”
Allen says a couple days later his father would throw him the keys again and encourage him to drive some more. “He was like, ‘I want you to learn to drive without feeling pressured by me or your mom to not mess up.’ A lot of kids can drive, but when their parents are in the car, a lot of times they don’t want their parents to know they really know how to drive, so they’ll drive ten to two, or sit up straight,” he says. “Nobody drives like that, unless you’re over the age of 65. So that’s how I learned. He let me just go out there and figure it out.”
It was easy to drive around the streets near his home since there wasn’t a lot of traffic. “The sheriff and police knew kids were learning how to drive, so they didn’t even pull us over. I remember one time I was a 15, I didn’t have a license and I just drove down to the fire department just to hang out, because that’s where a lot of us used to go hang out—the fire department across from this pond and the library, so we’d drive down, no license,” Allen says with a laugh. “Just drive down, hang out at the fire hall, go to the library, take some books out, and drive home, because it was only 2 miles down the street, and you’re driving 2 miles in a small town.”
First car bought
In 2005, Allen bought a used Chevy Malibu, which he thinks was from 1998 to 2001. “My mom had some money she was saving on the side for me. I had some talent show money that I won and saved, because the car was only $8,000,” he says.
He bought the Malibu just before he quit college, and it was the car that drove him to his dream of living in—and eventually making it in—Nashville, in 2007. “The passenger door didn’t work, had a dent in it. It didn’t really stop at lights, had to put it in neutral, keep pumping gas a little bit,” he says. “At lights I couldn’t stop on the brake all the way, so I would put it in neutral and just rev it a little bit, keep some juice flowing through. The engine in the car wasn’t good, so a lot of times when you would stop, it would overheat.”
The Chevy was also the car he lived in for three and a half months in his early days in Nashville. “I had somewhere to stay, but I couldn’t afford to keep staying there. I was living in a trailer, and the lady sold the trailer and I didn’t have enough money to buy it. She only sold it for $500 bucks. I think I had eight dollars in my bank account at the time,” he says. “So I just lived in my car for a little bit until I saved a little money and got an apartment with a buddy of mine.”
Allen worked at various jobs, including at a snack bar at a gym, Walmart, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. “The cool thing is when you’re not paying $900 for rent, all that money, you just save it. So my paychecks just went to my savings account,” he says. He finally had to get rid of the Malibu in 2011 and sold it to a junkyard for $300.
Favorite road trip
Allen has two favorite road trips. The first one was when he was 14 and the entire family drove from Delaware to Oakland, California, in four days.
“Me, my mom, my dad, two of my cousins, and one of my sisters, we drove two vehicles from Delaware to California to go see our great-grandparents. This was back before GPS, so I remember my dad was driving one car and my grandpa was in the other one and they had a map, a road map. My mom was sitting in the passenger seat, with this big old map out, trying to tell directions. You couldn’t put your fingers on it, and open it up and zoom in or nothing. You just had to mark it with a highlighter,” Allen says, laughing.
It’s his favorite trip because his family was all together. “I feel like anytime your family is together, you’ve got great memories. It’s always going to be somebody’s favorite,” he says.
Allen’s other favorite road trip was the first time he took his son to Disney World from Nashville four years ago.
“The drive from Nashville to Disney is about 10 and half hours when you stop at the rest stops. But it was fun, because we made a game out of it. We’d get out of the car every now and again, hit a rest stop, kick the soccer ball around or throw the football around,” he says.
What made it memorable was that his mom, sister, his son, and a couple of cousins experienced it together, in a borrowed van. “That’s what made it fun. It kind of looked like a Mark III van, it was a friend of mine’s van. I didn’t really have the money to rent a vehicle, so my buddy’s family had this old van that didn’t have A/C. He said, ‘You all can just take it for free,’ so we actually took it down there twice.”
“Make Me Want To”
Allen’s current single “Make Me Want To” is climbing the country charts, and he’s excited about an upcoming duet with Noah Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter.
“I got my publishing deal ten years in. I got my record deal at my eleventh year in Nashville,” Allen says. “I always knew I would. My grandma told me at a young age, she didn’t believe in plan B’s because it’s impossible to put 100 percent into two different things. Something’s going to sacrifice. Something going to give. So I was always committed to this; there was no backup plan. I never had a plan B, always just kept moving ahead with the dream and not letting it go.”
Allen feels blessed to be able to make music professionally. “I’m super thankful for what I get to do. I definitely don’t take it for granted. Each day I wake up thankful and try to figure out ways to improve, not only as an artist, but as man, as well,” he says.
Performance shots courtesy of Jensen Sutta
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