When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey)

Album: Thirty Miles West (2012)


  • Alan Jackson closes his seventeenth studio album with this intimate and emotional cut about his wife Denise's battle with cancer. He started writing the heartrending tune when she was first diagnosed and it follows her struggles through chemo and her eventual recovery. Jackson only told her about the song once she was better. "It just came out," he told CMT. "I felt like I needed to write it, but I never told her I did. I'm glad we recorded it, and it's on there, not only for Denise, but once you go through something like that, you run into so many people that have had the same thing happen. I feel this song will say a lot to them and they'll be able to connect with those emotions that are in there. Maybe it'll be good for some people to hear that."
  • Jackson told The Boot that even when he's writing about something as personal as his wife's battle with cancer, he tries to make his songs universal enough for people to relate to. "I've always tried to be careful. If I write something that's that personal, I try to write them so they aren't so obvious," he said. "That song for Denise, 'When I Saw You Leaving,' if you don't listen to it close, you'd think it was about some guy's wife or girlfriend leaving them. You have to listen to it a little bit to really understand what it's about and that's the way I like to do it. Even when I wrote the song when my daddy died years ago, that 'Drive' song," he continued, "if you listened to it, you wouldn't necessarily think it was a song you wrote for your daddy that died. So I'm trying to camouflage. I've written heartache songs over the years, too, that have been inspired by my own life, but you'd have to really be close to know it."
  • Jackson explained to The Boot that when Denise was battling cancer, he tried to be strong and supportive and confident for his wife and not let her see that he was that concerned about where she might end up. He added that he wrote a line in this song, "about 'trying to be a post to lean on, a part you learn that's hard to play' and that's what I meant. I was trying to be strong for her. It was hard to be that when sometimes you didn't feel that way."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Edwin McCain

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top Proverb

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.

Women Who Rock

Women Who RockSong Writing

Evelyn McDonnell, editor of the book Women Who Rock, on why the Supremes are just as important as Bob Dylan.

TV Theme Songs

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Michael Schenker

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.

Graham Parker

Graham ParkerSongwriter Interviews

When Judd Apatow needed under-appreciated rockers for his Knocked Up sequel, he immediately thought of Parker, who just happened to be getting his band The Rumour back together.