When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey)

Album: Thirty Miles West (2012)

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

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