Takes "Anything but Mine" to No. 1
In the liner
notes to his album When the Sun Goes Down, Kenny Chesney writes
that "Anything but Mine" reminds him of a spring break
fling in Daytona Beach as a college sophomore. He doesn't know
where that sorority girl is now, but the song
Click here to find out more!
can easily be found at the top spot on the Billboard country singles
It's the third
No. 1 from the album, but expect to hear "Keg in the Closet,"
another single from the project, on the radio in the next few
Craig Morgan's "That's What I Love About Sunday" to
No. 2. Brooks & Dunn's "It's Getting Better All the Time"
and Montgomery Gentry's "Gone" remain in third and fourth
place, while Jo Dee Messina's "My Give a Damn's Busted,"
inches one spot to No. 5. Sugarland's "Baby Girl" descends
to No. 6, ahead of Gretchen Wilson's "Homewrecker" at
No. 7 and Andy Griggs' "If Heaven" at No. 8. Toby Keith's
"Honkytonk U" and Joe Nichols' "What's a Guy Gotta
Do" enter the Top 10 at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
a newcomer on independent label Broken Bow, earns the week's highest
debut as "Hicktown" arrives at No. 55. Other new singles
include Blue County's "That Summer Song" at No. 56,
Rebecca Lynn Howard's "No One'll Ever Love Me" at No.
58 and Shooter Jennings' "4th of July" at No. 59. The
latter features George Jones singing "He Stopped Loving Her
Today." After four weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 48,
Cowboy Troy's "I Play Chicken With the Train" appears
to have lost steam to arrive at No. 60.
comedian Larry the Cable Guy entered last week's country albums
chart at No. 1 with The Right to Bare Arms. He continues his grip
on the chart this week, too, with Rascal Flatts' Feels Like Today
and Wilson's Here For the Party holding steady at No. 2 and No.
3. Shania Twain's Greatest Hits lands at No. 4, ahead of Chesney's
Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair at No. 5, McGraw's
Live Like You Were Dying at No. 6, the all-star project Totally
Country Vol. 4 at No. 7, Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down at No.
8 and Keith Urban's Be Here at No. 9. Meanwhile, Sugarland's debut
Twice the Speed of Life rounds out the Top 10, marking the Atlanta
trio's first appearance there.
Celebrates Birthday at Minnesota Concert
Minn. -- Even though Kenny Chesney's torn ligaments in his right
ankle delayed the start of his Somewhere in the Sun tour by two
weeks, he was clearly at full strength during show No. 4 on Saturday
night (March 26) at the sold-out Xcel
Click here to find out more!
like a king, sitting on a swing, flying over the crowd from the
back of the arena to the stage. ("I felt like I was in the
Matrix movie," he told CMT.com after the show.) Onstage,
Chesney ran around with abandon and danced like a boot-scootin'
fool for 1¾ hours.
I hear the crowd, and the adrenaline starts, I don't think about
my ankle," he said in an interview, adding that he has his
ankle taped like a football player. "It's a little tender
here and there, but it's doing good."
was in extra supply Saturday because it was his birthday. Before
he injured his ankle while carrying luggage -- in his flip-flops
-- down the steps of his Caribbean home, he had expected to spend
his big day at a party at his grandma's in east Tennessee with
other relatives, some of whom have birthdays at the same time
of year. "They're having a party -- minus one," he said
before going onstage.
Not that Chesney
was complaining. He had a party with 17,429 wild revelers in St.
Paul and "my best friends in the whole world" -- four
of his high school buddies -- as well as opening acts Uncle Kracker
and Gretchen Wilson. The fans were clearly there for the party,
wearing silly pointed hats and holding homemade signs, including
one misspelled one -- "HAPPY 37 BIRTHDAY KENNEY" --
that stretched across an entire row.
me, it's my birthday," begged the sign of one woman, who
was standing in the pit created by the giant T-shaped runway.
"It's my birthday, too," Chesney pointed out before
planting a kiss on the woman's forehead.
Sammy Hagar "Birthday Bash 2004" sleeveless T-shirt,
Chesney started the concert in overdrive with "Keg in the
Closet" and didn't downshift until his fifth number, "Woman
With You." During the 23-song set, the emphasis was on the
high-energy side of his repertoire ("Big Star," "Young,"
"She's Got It All," Conway Twitty's "Love to Lay
You Down"). During "Back Where I Come From," he
showed videos of his hometown, Luttrell, Tenn., and then footage
of landmarks of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including the Mall of
America, First Avenue (the nightclub Prince made famous in Purple
Rain) and the familiar house from Mary Tyler Moore's 1970s TV
solo acoustic, singing "Old Blue Chair" while sitting
in that weathered rocker he had shipped from his house in the
British Virgin Islands. (The chair has its own traveling road
case built especially for the tour.). His other noteworthy prop
represented the other extreme -- 5-foot tall Marshall guitar amps
stacked on top of each other.
To be sure,
Chesney rocked, with as many as five guitarists sharing the stage
on a couple of tunes. As he has done on past tours, he covered
a John Mellencamp hit. After thrilling the high-spirited crowd
with the opening chorus to "Hurts So Good," he introduced
Gretchen Wilson. As she took a bow, the band stopped, and then
she suddenly eased into "Happy Birthday" a la Marilyn
Monroe cooing to President John F. Kennedy.
birthday, Mr. Chesney," she purred and then handed him an
industrial-sized tropical drink. They each took a big, long gulp
-- and then finished "Hurts So Good" but not the big
gulp. Light green with lots of ice cubes in a long-stem container,
the celebrative cocktail looked as if it could be a margarita
or a daiquiri. "I'm not sure myself," Chesney said later,
"but it was good."
Some of Chesney's
sidemen got a gulp as did Uncle Kracker, who joined the headliner
for "When the Sun Goes Down" and Kid Rock's "Cowboy."
(Yes, the CMA's reigning entertainer of the year can rap). The
birthday boy dragged his four pals in chinos and dress shirts
to the stage for Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," and
before you could say "sha-la-la," the birthday bash
had turned into a frat party singalong.
"Old Blue Chair," Chesney didn't do any songs from his
latest album, the chart-topping Be As You Are: Songs From an Old
Blue Chair. He ended the evening with a rollicking, fall-to-his-knees
rendition of "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," signed
several autographs from the stage and then picked up that special
birthday libation and toasted the crowd.
Wilson, that brown-eyed, redneck woman, blurred the lines between
rock and country during her opening set. She moved from a medley
of Heart's "Straight On" and Led Zeppelin's "Rock
and Roll" to her own "Redneck Woman" and "Here
for the Party." Uncle Kracker also resurrected some rock
oldies, Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone" and
Dobie Gray's "Drift Away," which Kracker remade into
a hit a couple of years ago. And his own hit, "Follow Me,"
with its references to island music and AC/DC, was a big crowd-pleaser.
concert, the birthday boy was flying high.
so much fun tonight," Chesney gushed in an interview. "I
told the guys that's the most fun we've had in four or five years.
It was 'anything goes' -- and anything did go. No matter what
road we took, the audience took it and then went along."
Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue Chair
was supposed to be a low-key do-nothing album of general leisure
that Kenny Chesney did for a lark because he’s been touring
for years, and he’s as tired as any man can be. So he goes
down to the Caribbean with a guitar, records a few tracks, sends
them up north, and the record labels says "why not?"
and presses a few copies. It does well and everyone becomes happy.
At least that’s
the story—and it would be true, if it wasn't for the videos,
television advertisements, his appearances on country music television,
and a new website with exclusive video commentaries on each of
the songs. Then again, country adapts personae as readily as any
other genre, and Chesney's success has increased exponentially.
So why not sell the good ol' boy image with the melancholy nostalgia,
cracker-joking, frat-boy erotica, and beach bum recreation that
are already found in spades on his other CDs?
(and the last) song makes it plain from the get-go. “Old
Blue Chair” is the story of a real chair somewhere on a
real beach, made of real wicker. He mentions this fact several
times—the chair of the song is a metonymy of Chesney's larger
concerns, he has "read a lot of books, wrote a few songs,"
"looked at his life and where he’s gone," and
all of this thinking and touring, all of this musicianship has
destroyed his joy of life. The only thing that restores it is
a beach chair where he fishes, tans, watches boats, recovers from
a lover, and prays. It even kept him safe after he passed out
drunk one night. All of his life is reduced to this chair and
this beach. It's a lovely song, but it's essentially another prayer
of nostalgia—an emotion that all but dominates Chesney's
from the chair are lullabies of self-realization and happiness
soaked with booze and joy. “Be As You Are,” keeps
all of the clichés of middle American tropical vacations
(Pina Colodas, hammocks) and would be borderline offensive if
it wasn't for the music, with the glistening steel drums, understated
harmonicas, fretless bass, and a heartbreaking coda of lalalas—the
last few seconds, where Chesney goes all onomatopoeic makes me
think that he should fire his writers and just sing syllables.
This is confirmed
by the silly “Guitars and Tiki Bars.” The same island
clichés (mangoes and Marley) are delivered in a similar
stoner's drawl, but there is a laconic calypso sway, suggesting
that he has actually spent time on the islands. If you can avoid
thinking about what is being said, you may want to give up working,
and move down south (yes: this South is imaginary and yes: there
is something to be said about the racist implications of the lazy
native in the tropical heat especially when it is being exported
by a millionaire white entertainer—but hearing this makes
you want to believe in the legend without any colonial baggage.)
There is also
the question of money—and by the fourth track the usual
country audience who cannot afford these vacations between work
and child raising, would begin to resent all this leisure—which
is why “Island Boy” seeks to explain how anyone can
have this life. From the sheer practicalities of "he saved
his money and sold his car" to the seductive "he’s
an island boy / Living a life where his stress is the enemy"
to becoming a local, wherein he hangs out with his dope smoking
friends, and it ends with a pretty girl and a nice house—and
all sorts of musical and lyrical details like this throughout
the album, but it doesn’t make all of the songs great—there
are a number of genuine clunkers and some smaller disappointments.
All of the ambiguity and sexual complexity of his last single
seems drained out of “Boston,” but it does have the
exact same narrative and most of the same musical cues, while
“Something Sexy About The Rain” is filler for Faith
Hill or something Shania would make a suggestive video of; the
instrumentation dull and lifeless, not quiet and subdued.
And then there’s
the country tropic version of Warrant’s "Cherry Pie."
This one must have been done intoxicated. That’s because
there’s no real reason why Chesney would release a song
that mentions coconuts, shaking that thing, a "not too tart
and not too sweet" key lime pie that his baby "loves
to watch him eat," and ends with an threesome between Kenny,
Ginger and Mary-Anne. It’s probably camp, but it’s
crucially missing humor or the dirtiness that Chesney, at his
best, is most capable (“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”).
a lovely and content ballad called “Soul of the Sail”
eventually saves the day, using the best of Chesney's haunting
and well-constructed baritone. It deserves a place in the great
sea songs of the past, not in the cheap and easy Jimmy Buffetisms,
but something older and more emotionally resonant. It’s
followed, and the album closed, by the aforementioned second version
of “Old Blue Chairs,” which was field-recorded on
a four track at the beach, and sounds almost refreshingly raggedly
If he cut
the middle out and made it an EP, Kenny Chesney’s Be As
You Are would be a classic. There are undoubtedly songs here that
will be on my singles list at the end of the year—I’ve
listened to the best tracks a dozen times and they have burrowed
into my cerebral cortex. That’s why it’s such a disappointment
then, that the filler has to take such a central part of the album.