Alan Jackson has a string of hits that spans 20 years and many of them are deeply personal, such as “Drive (for Daddy Gene)” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” On his new album, Thirty Miles West, out June 5, he has included what he tells the Chicago Tribune is his most personal song to date. The track, “When I Saw You Leaving (for Nisey),” is for his wife Denise who is now in remission after a recent battle with cancer.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” Alan told the paper. “I was taking care of her since she was about 17. I paid for her college and bought her a car before we were ever married. It’s almost like I half-raised her. I’ve always been taking care of her, and the cancer was the one thing I couldn’t do a thing about. I couldn’t help her, other than to just be there with her, and that was really hard. It was just something that life brought us.”
Alan grew up in a small town in Georgia that was thirty miles west of the highway, the inspiration behind his new album’s title. Through the years, Alan has written and recorded songs about his hometown and towns like it across the country. Those songs resonate, he says, because people are really not all that different.
“I’ll tell you one thing I learned,” he said. “I’d never been anywhere in my life until I came to Nashville, and now in this business, I’ve been everywhere. Whether I’m in Pennsylvania or Northern California, it’s just small towns all through there. Growing up in Georgia, I used to think people up north or out west were so different. They’re really not. They’re just regular people who live in small towns. They grow up and try to raise families and have a job and go to church and play softball. It’s that way everywhere.”
Thirty Miles West is the first album on Alan’s new label home, ACR/EMI Records Nashville. It includes his current hit, “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore,” as well as a new collaboration with Zac Brown Band.