"There's this highway that's been in existence for forever now -- it's called the Dixie Highway and it runs from north of Michigan all the way down to South Florida, and I wrote a song about it that's on the album," Alan explains. "I grew up on Highway 34 outside of Newnan, Georgia, and that's where we came up with Thirty Miles West. I think we were about thirty miles west of the official part of the Dixie Highway that runs through Georgia."
If the other song titles on the new CD are any indication, the collection is in keeping with one of country's most traditional torchbearers. Tracks include "Gonna Come Back As a Country Song," "Look Her In the Eyes and Lie," "She Don't Get High," "Talk Is Cheap,"and "When I Saw You Leaving (for Nisey)," a song that was inspired by Alan's wife Denise's battle with cancer. The heartrending tune follows her path through chemo and her eventual recovery. He actually wrote it during his wife's struggle, but never told her about it until after the fact.
"It just came out," Alan tells 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."
The album, Alan's first under his own label, Alan Country Records (in partnership with EMI Nashville,) also features the single, "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore." The somber tune was co-written by Alan's nephew Adam Wright, and is currently climbing the country charts. The superstar says he knew the song was a show-stopper the very first time he heard it.
"It raised the hair on my arms when I heard the demo," he says. "It's the kind of song that made me want to be in country music. I'm such a big fan of that kind of song. Sad songs, break-up songs and heartache songs are always the best ones to bring that emotion out ... people are comparing it to a new 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.' I wouldn't want to put myself in that category with George Jones, but it is a great song."
Thirty Miles West, which is Alan's 14th studio album, will be available at nationwide outlets and digital retailers June 5.