(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Kenny Chesney’s next album, which will be here in 110 days, doesn’t have a title yet. But Chesney did have this to say about the music: “I have always tried to put as much of my life into my music and how I grew up and how I live it,” he said in a radio interview. Then, “Early on in my career, I didn’t do that much, but when my life changed as an artist is when I really started letting a lot of my life in there.”
So does that mean that his earlier songs weren’t as much about his own life as the music is now? Or will be, come June 19? I guess I can hear that evolution with my own Chesney record collection. His debut album had Aaron Tippin and Keith Whitley covers on it, so obviously those were not about his own life. His next album had some classic country love songs — some of which he wrote and some he didn’t — and really started to launch Chesney into stardom. (If you don’t think he has evolved lyrically, vocally, stylistically and twangily, go watch the “Fall in Love” video from 1995.) Then in 1996, when Chesney put “Back Where I Come From” on his third album, I thought it was literally his life in a song. He said at one Dallas concert that it was his favorite song he’d ever recorded because it painted the perfect picture of what it was like growing up in East Tennessee.
But if you fast forward to Chesney’s latest hits, such as “The Boys of Fall” and “You and Tequila,” you can see what he means about “letting a lot of my life in there.” They aren’t drastically different from his first few songs. Just a little deeper. More revealing. And maybe Chesney sounds a little older and wiser. Twenty years in the music business will do that to a guy.