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Why ‘What I’m Leaving For’ Resonates With Lady Antebellum: ‘It’s Where We Are’

"What I'm Leaving For" hits close to home for Lady A...

Written by Cillea Houghton
Why ‘What I’m Leaving For’ Resonates With Lady Antebellum: ‘It’s Where We Are’
Lady Antebellum; Photo credit: Dove Shore

If you want to know where Lady Antebellum is at in life, listen to their new single, “What I’m Leaving For.”

The trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood aren’t just CMA and Grammy Award winners, they’re also parents to six children between them. The sense of longing that comes with leaving one’s family behind to chase your dreams is a reality for the group, inspiring them to release “What I’m Leaving For” as the second single off their latest album, Ocean.

“What I’m Leaving For” follows Lady A’s most recent chart-topper “What If I Never Get Over You,” their 10th No. 1 career single and first in six years. When deciphering what track to release as the next single, they took note of fans’ reaction to the family-oriented song on social media and after narrowing down the options to songs that spoke to them the most, “What I’m Leaving For” became the undeniable option.  

“This just seems like the most perfect song because it’s where we are,” Kelley shared with Sounds Like Nashville and other media at the party celebrating “What If I Never Get Over You.” “After singing a song that is more like where we’ve been, ‘What I’m Leaving For’ is more where we are,” Haywood explains. “I think it’s going to connect more because people can see that our kids, our families are the most important thing to us, and so I think it’s a nice fresh, present follow up.”

While the song instantly resonated with a band that’s used to leaving home to fulfill their musical destiny, they’ve found that it’s also made an impact on others whose jobs take them away from their families, whether it’s those leaving each day for a 9-to-5 job or soldiers serving overseas. Haywood recalls how listening to the demo of the song on his way to the airport “wrecked” him, so much so he sent it to his brother-in-law, who has served multiple duties in Afghanistan and also connected with the song’s message, encouraging them to cut it. Kelley has also received messages from friends telling him how the song speaks to them, while Scott shared that one day while scrolling through social media she came across a family who filmed themselves listening to “What I’m Leaving For” while in the car on a road trip. “When they relate to it so much it becomes a soundtrack of their life, it goes so far beyond just the music. It’s their memories,” she describes.

As the longtime bandmates prepare to hit the road on the summer-long Ocean 2020 Tour, they expect the meaning of “What I’m Leaving For” to shine through on stage, particularly during shows where the people they love most are several states away, but always close at heart. “That’s going to make for some emotional performances of that song over the next several months and on the tour, especially on the weekends when they aren’t with us,” Scott anticipates. “This is exactly where we are now,” Haywood asserts. “I know fans will really love seeing that.”

Maddie & Tae and Jake Owen will join Lady Antebellum as the Ocean 2020 Tour sets sail on May 21 and continues through Sept. 12.