Kenny Chesney: 'CMT Insider' Interview (First of Two Parts)

He Shares Thoughts on New Songs, Life as a Celebrity

Kenny Chesney says fans can expect a different perspective on his new album, Welcome to the Fishbowl.

"I think that people are going to be surprised by how honest this record is and how emotional it is. There were a lot of emotional twists and turns to get where it is," he told CMT Insider host Katie Cook.

"We all have that something. For me, it's balance. I think we're all trying to figure ourselves out one way or another, why we're here, who we're supposed to be," he added.

Cook talked to the superstar in Tampa, Fla., prior to a performance during his Brothers of the Sun stadium tour with Tim McGraw. In the first of this two-part interview, Chesney talks about a few of the new songs, as well as the way he sees the world.

CMT: Tell us about the video for "Come Over." When I heard this song, I thought "Mmm, this could go very sexy."

Chesney: Oh, it went very sexy. Well, it is what it is. How do I say this? I'm going to call it a classy booty call song. That's what it is. You can't really say "comfortable sex" on TV, can you? I guess you can. This is a song about comfortable sex. ... We've all been in those situations when we know we're not going to [continue to] be with that person we have been with for a while. The relationship is over, done, run its course. But you aren't really ready to move onto somebody else emotionally, mentally or physically. So what do we do? We "come over." (holds hand up to ear) "I know you hate me and I hate you too ... but come over!" We don't have to fix each other, so come over." We know we're screwed up. So we took that situation and made the video. It's a very sexy video.

"Time Flies" is one of my favorite songs on the new album. It's classic Kenny. It's so fun. Have you tried it out live at all yet?

No, nothing yet. We may. I felt Welcome to the Fishbowl was so emotional that a piece of the record needed to exhale. And that's what "Time Flies" does. I think that represents me personally, and I think it represents all these thousands of people that are going to be out here. I've had countless people tell me that what me and the guys do up here is their exhale. That's from life, from whatever it is that's weighing them down.

The first song you cut for this album was "While He Still Knows Who I Am." Did that kind of set the tone for this record?

It did. "While He Still Knows Who I Am" is a song about a son going to visit his father who suffers from Alzheimer's. And he is wanting to get to know him again while he can, while his father still knows who he is. But to me, it is more than that. You don't have to have a family member or someone you care about suffering from Alzheimer's to feel like you're disconnected.

I have felt that emotion with a lot of people because, over the last several years of my life, we've been doing this (points to stage) all the time. And it is ironic to know that I can stand out there and act like I do ... and have that connection, that ability to connect, but then wake up one day and think that you're disconnected with the people that molded you as a human being and loved you most. ... When I heard this song, wow, it killed me. And finally I had a song that's going to ground whatever else happens. I can wrap other songs around it.

You co-wrote the title track of Welcome to the Fishbowl. What inspired the song?

More than anything, the way we live today is what inspired this song. You don't have to be a celebrity to live like we're living. Because now, more than ever, you don't have to be in the public eye like me to lose your privacy. So this song is not about any level of celebrity or the negativity that comes with that. It could very easily have gone that way. ... There's a line in the song that says, "You don't have to be famous to be a star. Just get caught on video, and there you are."

It's kind of scary.

Scary? It's more than scary. I grew up in a small town outside of Knoxville, Tenn. Sooner or later, over a month or two, everyone ended up knowing everybody's business, all the gossip around town. But it took a while, right? It took a little while for it to get around church, for it to get around the school, and everybody's on the phone. Now everybody knows everybody's business, and it's global and it's instant. And it's scary, like you said. And you don't have to be a guy like me or some of my famous football friends.

But you are famous.

Of course, but ... I know that this doesn't come for free, I understand that. My life has had its moments, as we all know. But to be honest with you, I don't feel like I'm living constantly in a fishbowl. I really don't. I think people would be shocked at how normal my day-to-day life is away from all this. I have very normal friends. I have the same friends I've had forever. What's the old joke? The more famous you get, they say, "Well, you've changed," and I say, "No, everyone's just changed around me." (laughs) But I do have the same friends and I do have my road family out here. Whatever that thing is that comes with a certain level of celebrity, I try not to let that keep me from enjoying my life.

But it's a little hard to go to the grocery store. There are certain places you can't go.

Yeah. I have my assistant for that stuff. (laughs) But I go to the grocery store. I try to do normal things. There was a moment that I did try to paint myself into a little corner and I would not get out of it, and that is not fun. So I try to take everything that I've been blessed with in my life in stride and know that it's going to come with a little bit of [discomfort] every now and then. But for the most part, the blessings totally outweigh the nonblessings of being me.

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