I had an interview with Jackie Lee back in January 2017. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve had the chance to speak with. We talked about his current single at the time, upcoming shows, songwriting, and he even told an incredible story about his buddy in the NFL. The conversation was light, friendly and inspiring – I never could have imagined what the singer was going through at the time.
It was revealed recently that at just 26 years old, Lee has battled cancer twice. Just months after losing his mom to the same disease, the unimaginable happened when Lee was diagnosed himself. Around the one year anniversary of his mom’s passing, Jackie got together with Barry Dean and Sean McConnell to write the song, ‘Long Year,’ which he promptly tucked away. The write was a four or five hour therapy session and the result he never intended to release.
A couple months later at a routine checkup, Lee found out his cancer had returned and he would need to undergo chemotherapy. Jackie had the idea to record his treatment, not knowing exactly how the videos would be used. From the beginning, through losing his hair, to ringing a bell at his final session – Jackie sent all the footage to his friend Dustin Haney, who put it together to make the ‘Long Year’ music video.
He battled with the decision to post the video publicly, but ultimately decided to with a little motivation from his family and team. “I am doing so in hopes that it may encourage even just one person to keep going,” he said on Twitter. The story is raw and it’s real. Even though once Jackie never imagined it connecting with people, most of us have endured loss and our own long years to some extent. It shows how alone one can feel in that moment, and how much we can overcome. The song, he says, isn’t really about his mom, but more to her. It’s about his grief and hardships throughout the year, when the one person Lee needed in the toughest time was gone. As Jackie sings about fighting back tears, you’ll be fighting back you’re own.
The end of the video, which is dedicated to his mother, displays a collection of post-it notes filled with “positive vibes” written by Jackie’s mom. It zooms in on one that reads, “Your setback is a set up for a come back.” Which just so happens to be the title of Lee’s latest single. It was a coincidence his brother discovered when Jackie went to record ‘Comeback.’
Reading about Jackie’s story and listening to the song, his words are just as encouraging and inspiring as they were when we spoke a year and a half ago – just with different context now. It’s a good reminder that you never know what others are going through, and to always be kind.
Whether or not ‘Long Year’ becomes a hit, we know country fans value authenticity. The vulnerability in this song and the accompanying video is something to respect, even if you can’t personally relate. From the outpouring of love and support for the singer since the release, we can already tell that ‘Long Year’ has touched so many lives, something we’re sure his mom would be proud of.
Favorite Lyrics: I’m talking to you like you’re sitting next to me, blinking back and ocean and trying to steer, it’s been a long year…
Jackie shared his story with People, you can read more about it here.
You can purchase both ‘Long Year’ and ‘Comeback’ on iTunes and Google Play, or stream on Spotify.