I just had to throw Kenny Chesney's newest single "American Kids" into my patriotic playlist from last week. It was only fitting to give love to one of America's biggest country stars and a song that so perfectly captures the crazy rollercoaster ride that is growing up in the US of A.
And now that I've taken my own advice and been spinning the playlist all weekend long, I'm anxious to talk about the song even more -- particularly what moved me so much the first time I heard it.
Listening to those finely crafted lyrics, seeing those images -- "little map dots," "teenage dreamin', front seat leanin'" and "uptown down home American kids" -- I remember being that kid. I remember my braces. I remember the first time a boy held my hand, and I thought my heart would burst. I remember feeling like I could conquer the world all while being scared to death of it.
Written by Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, this song brought all those feelings back and reminded the adult me there is so much beauty in the sometimes beautiful mess of life.
Chesney says he knew the song was special the first time he heard it. Aside from the technical and musical aspects of the tune being something fresh for him, he admits it was also the lyrics that tugged at his heartstrings.
"It captures, I believe, the real essence of my audience who I believe are very smart," he said in a recent interview. "They're wild. They're a lot of free spirits, and they love pushing the limits in their own life."
Those are his people -- the kids, too -- the ones Chesney says are "out there loving that time in their life, but they're unsure of where life is headed."
He adds, "It's about who we are, how we grew up, how we're growing up, the things that matter the most in our life. ... I believe that 'American Kids' is postcards from real life."
From that real, beautiful, sometimes incredible, sometimes messy life the song captures, we may be "a little messed up, but we're all all right." I'm just glad to know Chesney is in our corner.