Alan Jackson’s Where Have You Gone arrives on Friday, the first new album he’s put out since 2015.
That six-year gap between projects wasn’t intentional, but the singer’s had to grapple with two major personal tragedies in recent years: the 2017 loss of his mom, Ruth Musick Jackson, followed by the untimely death of his son-in-law, Ben Selecman, in a boating accident the following year.
“It took a couple years to get through all that. I just didn’t feel like writing,” Alan tells Yahoo Entertainment, explaining that Ben’s death was even more painful because of the pain he watched his daughter go through as she lost her husband.
“When you’re the daddy and you kind of feel like you’re the head man, and you’ve got your wife and daughters and everybody, you really hurt more for them going through it,” he adds.
But when he did return to music, the singer’s love for his daughters inspired him. Where Have You Gone includes not one but two songs for his children: “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and “I Do,” which were written for his daughters’ weddings.
Another personal tribute on Alan’s album is “Where Her Heart Has Always Been,” a song he wrote for his mom’s funeral, which includes his mom’s voice reading from the Bible.
As always, Alan says, he tried to strike a balance between personal songwriting and universal relatability.
“I’ve written a lot of songs in my career about things that happened in my life — good and bad and happy and sad and all that stuff,” he notes, pointing to his 2002 single “Drive (for Daddy Gene)” in particular. “A lot of them are real personal, but I’ve always tried to write them where they’re not just about me.”