Alan Jackson Reveals Emotional Story Behind Song He Wrote After Wife Denise’s Cancer Diagnosis

by Keeli Parkey

Songwriters often create songs based on their personal experiences. For country music star Alan Jackson, a cancer diagnosis in his immediate family inspired him to write one of the most emotional songs of his career.

According to Taste of Country, Jackson’s wife, Denise Jackson, learned in 2010 that she had colorectal cancer. Unsurprisingly, both she and her famous husband were very upset. The country star talked about this experience during a recent interview with Essentials Radio on Apple Music Country. During the interview, also he talked about his songwriting process.

“I’ve always tried to write it where it is personal, but other people can feel like that could be their life,” Jackson said.

Going through it with his wife inspired the singer to share his feelings through a song. So, Alan Jackson channeled his own worries and fears into the song he titled “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey).” It was included on his “Thirty Miles West” album. He released this album in 2012.

The song captures how such news can change your life forever.

Jackson sings: “Ain’t it funny how, in a minute, your whole life’s looking fine / And a short few words later it all just comes untied? / You can’t believe you’re looking at what was always someone else / Now it’s staring right back at you, yesterday you couldn’t tell.”

Alan Jackson Found Peace in Songwriting

This Alan Jackson song also captures the anger many people feel when going through such a trying time.

And the anger starts to surface, looking up, asking why / And you realize he probably wants the best, as same as I / Days just go by quickly, nights just never end,” he also wrote.

Writing “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey)” helped Alan Jackson cope with the emotions he felt while his wife battled cancer. He also said he believed it could be a supportive song for others experiencing similar situations.

“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,” he said. “And I didn’t know if I wanted it to be on the album, but it was. 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.”

You can listen to Alan Jackson sing this very emotional track below.