Alan Jackson Opens Up About Song He Wrote About Wife’s Cancer

Alan Jackson frequently draws on his strong bond with his family for his songs. In a new interview, the iconic singer-songwriter shares the story behind a particularly emotional song that was never a hit, but was nonetheless impactful in a different way.

Jackson and his wife, Denise, went through a trial in 2010, when she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Jackson wrote a song about the ordeal titled “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey),” which closed his 2012 album Thirty Miles West.

“I’ve always tried to write it where it is personal, but other people can feel like that could be their life,” Jackson says in a new interview with Essentials Radio on Apple Music Country.

“My wife went through a tough time with cancer several years ago, and I wrote a song about that, and it was almost just something to help me as much as her. And I didn’t know if I wanted it to be on the album, but it was,” he adds. “It wasn’t a single or anything, but I tried to think that it might help other people that are going through something like that.”

The wrenching country ballad is almost too personal to bear.

“So shocked and disillusioned, helpless and confused / Not knowing how and what to say, not accepting that it’s true / You can’t help but see the worst to come a thousand different ways / The same time trying to hold a strong and optimistic gaze / When I saw you leaving / When I saw you leaving / When I saw you leaving in my mind,” he sings in the painful, but ultimately triumphant song.

Denise Jackson beat her cancer after chemotherapy and prayer, and in an interview with the Palm Beach Post in 2012, Alan Jackson admitted that her diagnosis “made us change our whole outlook on life, what we value and what’s important. That’s what happens in situations like that.”

Jackson will release a massive new album titled Where Have You Gone on May 14, 2021. The 21-song new project features “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and “I Do,” which Jackson wrote for his daughters’ weddings, and there’s also a song inspired by Jackson’s mother titled “Where Her Heart Has Always Been,” which he wrote for her funeral.

Jackson’s full interview with Essentials Radio airs on Sunday (May 9) at 1PM ET, and it will be available on-demand anytime via Essentials Radio on Apple Music Country. Wach highlights in the video below:

See Alan Jackson Through the Years: Country as All Get Out!

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