Kenny Chesney is, quite simply, one of the hottest artists in country music right now, with a best-selling album, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, and a red-hot national tour underway. To our surprise and delight, he recently found time to answer 20 questions submitted by country music fans to CMT.com. He talked about the video for “Young,” about his friendship with Tim McGraw, about his middle name and about his ideal woman. Read on.
1. Which of your videos was the most fun to make?
“Young” because I got to include my band for the first time — and they’re such a part of what we do with this music. Plus, those kids were cast to look like me and my two best friends growing up — David Farmer and Tim Holt — who still work with me today.
2. In the video for “Young,” is that you in any of the nostalgia clips? (Like the guy playing the drums?)
The video footage is not me growing up, but the photos at the beginning of the video are actual shots of me and my family when I was “Young.” And it’s not quite what you asked, but people are always coming up and wanting to know — YES, that IS my varsity letter jacket from high school. It still fits, which is pretty cool and amazing.
3. Did you like school when you were growing up? What was your favorite subject?
I loved school … especially because it meant being with friends and playing sports. I liked class and all, but really, when you’re a young guy in East Tennessee, it’s all about football and sports.
4. Growing up in East Tennessee, what was one of your favorite things to do on snow days?
Sledding and snowball fights with my friends, then sitting down to a big bowl of snowcream.
5. Kenny always has such an energetic stage show. What does he do (other than basketball) to stay in shape for his rigorous performances?
I work out one to two hours each day with a trainer, and I maintain a very healthy, very strict diet.
6. What is the purpose of the earpiece that you use when performing? Does your stage crew tell you things during the show?
Sometimes, yeah, the crew says things into my earpiece to make me laugh. But really that thing in my ear is a “monitor,” so I can hear myself and the band. Because I move around so much, having my “ears” means I get to have consistent sound.
7. Will you ever be able to reinstate the backstage passes at your shows?
I don’t know. My management decided to eliminate the backstage passes when the demand for passes became greater than the number of people we could meet without just rushing them through.
8. What’s the worst part about being on the road so much? What’s the best part?
I don’t get to see my family and friends as often as I’d like, and there’s no sense of having a home life. But, on the other hand, I get to see the world and play my music for the best fans in the whole world. When I hit that stage, it’s a pretty amazing feeling!
9. Where did you meet Tim McGraw?
Tim and I moved to town around the same time. We had pretty similar backgrounds and taste in music, so we became friends long before we had hit records. It’s not a very ’wow’ kind of story … but sometimes you just meet someone and it’s like you’ve always known them.
10. Because you live next to Tim McGraw, do you go over to his house for barbecues and play with his kids? Do they call you Uncle Kenny?
Yes, I love going over and hanging out with my friends. Sometimes they’ll make soup and call me over for dinner, though nothing beats playing with Gracie and Maggie. I can’t wait until Audrey is old enough to play with us too.
11. If you could record a duet with anyone, dead or alive, whom would you choose and what kind of song would you like it to be?
Probably, it would be Keith Whitley or Conway Twitty — and something that would be very THEM. You know, very traditional if it was Keith, but more steamy if it was Conway. Either way, though, you know the song would be very soulful.
12. Being the hottest bachelor in country music, what kind of qualities do you look for in a woman?
She needs to be smart and funny and love the ocean — and it would be good if, while she understood that I have to be gone a lot for work, she didn’t really care about what I did for a living. I’m more than a single or a video, though sometimes when that’s all people see, it’s hard to think of me as something more.
13. What is the significance of the white shell necklace you always have on? I love it, and just wondered if it was from someone special.
In the islands, where I like to go to get away, everyone wears them. So, for me, it’s taking a little piece of this place I love with me everywhere I go.
14. Who has been the most influential person in your life, outside of your music career, and why?
Definitely my grandparents — my whole family, really — because they gave me a very real sense of what matters. The values they gave me extend so far beyond the music business — and when you have a hard day (and I had plenty getting here, believe me), they sustain you. When I moved to Nashville, my grandfather was like, “surround yourself with good people and stay away from the bottle.” For them, it’s always simple like that, but just right on. “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” That says it all!
15. If I were a genie and could grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
Longer days, so I could do everything I dream about and am not rushing from obligation to obligation.
16. What are your favorite movies and TV shows?
17. Which CDs would I find in your CD player right now?
Keith Whitley, Jackson Browne, Aerosmith and Gary Allan.
18. When it’s time for a break, where is your favorite vacation destination?
I head to the Caribbean. It’s the perfect place to be quiet enough to start hearing what’s inside you.
19. Do you have a tattoo? Where is it?
No tattoos. I hope the Country Weekly cover didn’t confuse people … because that’s a temporary tattoo that we sell at our shows! I think my mind changes enough, I wouldn’t want to put something on my body that would be there forever.
20. I know you don’t like to tell anyone your middle name, but will you please tell me? I promise I won’t tell anyone.
Sorry, my lips are sealed.