Kenny Chesney Packs Emotional Punch in ‘Greatest Hits II’
It's hard to find a star shining brighter in Nashville than Kenny Chesney. The country powerhouse's streak of success hasn't faltered in some 15 years, as he boasts more than 25 million albums sold, sixteen No. 1 hits, countless awards and a sea of loyal fans who have made him the biggest North American concert ticket seller of any artist in any genre.
Kenny is certainly at the top of his game as he releases his 'Greatest Hits II' album this week. It's a collection of songs that he says "each have a different meaning," that each take him to a different place or event in his life, evoking a roller coaster of emotions.
"The most personal is the track with Dave Matthews, 'I'm Alive,' just because of where I was in my life when I wrote it," Kenny tells The Boot. "Most of the songs on this record are really fun, but I wrote 'I'm Alive' after my breakup with Renée [Zellweger]. I woke up one day and realized, even though I'm going through all this stuff and don't feel good about it, the outer shell of my life is really great. I'm alive; I get to make music; I've got a lot of great friends. That's the message of the song."
Kenny insists that song selection for 'Greatest Hits II' was not formulaic. In addition to hits that climbed the country charts, the singer also wanted to include album cuts that reflect his life and career path since the release of his first greatest hits CD, almost nine years ago.
"'Be as You Are' wasn't a song on the radio for me, but I wanted a song from the 'Old Blue Chair' album to be represented," he explains. "I didn't want it to just be all the songs that were hits, I wanted it to be the snapshot of a time period -- a second chapter of my life in music. 'Be as You Are' really does that for me."
Kenny is now in the midst of what is undoubtedly his favorite part of the job: touring. His Sun City Carnival Tour kicked off last month with a long list of sold-out shows. It's a summer tradition the country superstar has headlined every year since 2002, each year adding a different spark that keeps fans coming back.
"Somebody asked me, 'How are you going to make it bigger?' I said, 'Well, we can't have any more lights or any more screens, and we can't turn it up any louder!'" the four-time CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year jokes of his plans to mix up the show this year. "But you know what, the energy level of this show is a little bit stronger. I timed my show the other day, and I don't do a ballad until 51 minutes into the show! [laughs] So I've got to be in shape."
And in great shape he is -- both physically and mentally. Kenny recently celebrated his 41st birthday, but the number of candles on the cake didn't phase him a bit, thanks mostly to the continued blessing of being able to make a living off what he loves so deeply.
"I still feel like I'm 18. I still act like it most days," he tells us with a laugh. "Living life the way I do on the road, it definitely keeps you feeling that way. And I think people that have music in their life are a lot better off than people that don't. You're healthier if you have music in your life. I've been very blessed to have not just a little bit of music in my life, but a whole lot of music. It drives my life."
Kenny Chesney - 'Greatest Hits II' Tracklist:
'Out Last Night'
'Living In Fast Forward'
'Down The Road' (with Mac McAnally)
'Beer In Mexico'
'There Goes My Life'
'When The Sun Goes Down' (with Uncle Kracker)
'Anything But Mine'
'Be As You Are'
'I Go Back'
'No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems'
'The Good Stuff'
'Never Wanted Nothing More'
'I'm Alive' (with Dave Matthews)