NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Alan Jackson is not one to overshare. An imposing figure, he’s tall and reserved with cowboy hat pulled down low over his eyes. Even that moustache is a little bit intimidating.
Yet once in a while, the country superstar and Newnan native lets loose with a burst of emotion so raw and heartfelt, it puts the lie to Jackson’s stoic facade. Such was the case when Jackson first recorded “When I Saw You Leaving (For Nisey),” a tribute to his wife Denise written while she was fighting cancer.
“When we went out to track it, it was a very gripping, emotional moment for everybody,” Jackson’s producer Keith Stegall said. “I think it touched everyone.”
That was the first time anyone had heard the song, which appears on Jackson’s new album “Thirty Miles West,” out this week. The singer wasn’t sure he wanted to share it with anybody, though. When he brought it to the studio, he’d never even played it for Denise.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Jackson said. “She already had enough to deal with and I didn’t know if it would make her feel better or worse. I didn’t share it with anybody. Just didn’t want to, until we did it in the session that day.”
Jackson brought in Zac Brown Band to guest on “Dixie Highway.” The two Georgia acts teamed up on Brown’s “As She’s Walking Away.”
“I like Zac and his band,” Jackson said. “Before they even made any records they came and played me some of their stuff, the demos and things. I knew then they were a good bunch because they were writers and they played on their records. ... They’re not just somebody who decided they wanted to be a singer and come to Nashville. They’ve were in Georgia for years paying their dues like people used to do. So they’re a real act.”