He may not know the difference between Iraq and Iran, but Alan Jackson still got yeehaws from EW readers. ”It was great to see a talented, humble country boy smiling back at me,” writes Marta Wood from Fremont, Calif. ”Jackson sings from his heart and makes this world a better place.” Colleen Schmidt from Sanford, Fla., also kicked up her heels. ”Do us country-music fans a favor and include country stars more often!” Fans of a very different style of music were thankful for the update on Manic Street Preachers missing guitarist, Richey Edwards: ”Even though we fans know the story of the band backwards and forwards,” says Sharyn Emery of Woburn, Mass., ”I was so happy to see them mentioned at all. Thank you!”

Write ‘Em Cowboy

As a listener of country music for nearly 30 years, I was delighted with your story on Alan Jackson. His brand of traditional country music is a welcome change from the ”new country” that permeates today’s airwaves. Nashville should take note of how real country music sounds. DONALD THORESEN Brooklyn

As a longtime country fan and EW subscriber, it is about time country music received more coverage than album reviews in your magazine. And your choice of country giant Alan Jackson, whose heartfelt song moved a nation, is perfect! LISA GEIDL Lewiston, Idaho

Thank you for warming up a very cold morning in South Dakota. I couldn’t believe it when I opened the mailbox and found the hot Alan Jackson on your cover. Thank you, from all the A.J. fans in the world! CHARMAINE GULLIKSON Wakonda, S.D.

I just about fell out of my saddle when I saw country-music icon Alan Jackson on your cover! I have read your writers put down country music too many times to count. I speak for country-music fans everywhere when I say that EW should stop ignoring country music. And bring Alanna Nash’s desk out of the broom closet so she can review more than one token country release per week! MICHAEL HORN College Station, Tex.

Could Alan Jackson try any harder to make himself sound like an ordinary Joe (who just happens to make tons of money)? Here’s a guy making millions, but he has one of ”them skinny little digital recorder things” and he writes songs in his underwear. Wow, what a great, down-home kind of guy. And the song itself. ”I’m not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran” — it’s a stupid line that, like all country music, tries too hard to make things rhyme. It’s a cheesy song! JEFF DAKIN Guelph, Ontario

Maggie Smitten

Thanks so much for the wonderful article about Maggie Smith (”Grande Dame”) and for the regal portrait of that magnificent lady’s face! I’ve been a full-fledged fan ever since 1969, when I spent my entire teenage allowance at the movie theater watching The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie a dozen times, and my admiration for her has never since waned. TEMPERANCE BLALOCK Gaithersburg, Md.