When Alan Jackson‘s mother, Ruth Musick Jackson, died in January 2017, the country legend wrote a song for her funeral service. Now, fans can hear that cut — “Where Her Heart Has Always Been” — complete with Mama Ruth’s voice.
“Where Her Heart Has Always Been,” released on Friday (April 30), begins with Ruth Jackson reading from the Bible. Throughout the song, her country star son recounts the moment of her death, and the feeling of knowing that she’s in a better place.
“I could hear the roses sing / A bluebird softly flapped its wings / The sun seemed brighter than it’s ever been,” Jackson sings in the chorus, before a keening pedal steel and weepy fiddle take over. “And now she’s dancing in the wind with her true love again / Where her heart has always been / Where her heart has always been.”
Jackson shares that one of his four sisters found the recording of their mother reading from the Bible after the initial mix of the song was complete, but he and his team added it on to finish the track.
“That was sweet. Towards the last few years, she had a scratchy voice,” Jackson says. “But she was just such a sweet woman, a sweet, sweet lady, so we had to have that on here.”
“Where Her Heart Has Always Been” is one of three songs from Jackson’s upcoming new album, Where Have You Gone, that are particularly close to his heart. Two other songs, “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and “I Do,” where written for Jackson’s daughters’ weddings.
Where Have You Gone is due out on May 14 and will be Jackson’s first new album since 2015’s Angels & Alcohol. The artist admits that both the death of his mother and the 2018 death of his son-in-law Ben caused him to shelve a record: In the wake of so much loss, he “didn’t really feel like making music for a couple years.”
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