2018 CD FEATURE
SONGS FOR THE SAINTS (BLUE CHAIR-WARNER)
“Long before a boat anchored the harbour/ long before steel drums filled the breeze/ God lifted these islands from the ocean/ they stood strong for centuries/ so it's fitting they were named after men with golden halos/ cause angels don't give in just cause a little wind blows/ we say we can when they say we can't/ see what it is when they see what it ain't/ with blood, sweat, and tears and a new coat of paint/ we're just a sinner's choir singin' a song for the saints.” - Song For The Saints - Kenny Chesney-Tom Douglas-Scooter Carusoe.
Singer-sailor-songwriter Kenny Chesney may have been born in Luttrell - the same east Tennessee town as the late Chet Atkins - but he has found fame and fortune deeper south in the Virgin Islands.
Chesney, 50, has swum in the slipstream of fellow briny balladeer Jimmy Buffett and debuted at #2 on the mainstream Billboard chart with his 20th CD.
It's no surprise this was Chesney's 15th top 10 album with 77,000 units sold.
Chesney aims his joyous idyllic island fuelled celebrations at an avid army of music lovers trying to escape the angst of the Trump chump and other faux fuehrers of power and pomp.
Chesney says it's a message of hope and optimism that encourages listeners to look past their differences and respect one another.
“I can't think of a better song to set a record,” Chesney revealed.
“Everything it says is everything I think makes the world a better place. To have something that has a groove that feels so good wrapped around a song that reminds us it's the things that bring us together that will make us happy. When you get right down to it, Get Along is a great way to have some pretty important life advice delivered.”
"Some days, it's like the world is just angry, screaming people, all harping on what's wrong, how other people are awful. The more I move around, talk to people, though, the more I know people are seeking the same things, working hard to get by and hoping for the best for their family and friends. It's simple, but we keep getting driven apart - and made unhappy."
“In some ways Get Along is very different from the rest of Songs for the Saints . But in a lot of ways, it boils down every other subject onto the record - and ties it up with a perfect bit of the euphoria that defines the people of the Saints. It was an obvious choice for radio, but it also embodies everything else on a record which lifts up everything that has inspired my music over the last eighteen years.”
Chesney released the title track as his second single on June 1.
LOVE FOR LOVE CITY WITH ZIGGY MARLEY
“All I've got is love for love city/ all of her people are my people too/ every color, every creed/ together in good times, together in need/ all I've got is love for love city/ no I wasn't there on the island/ the night that the drums went silent/ but as much as I've lived my life on her shoulder/ I'll be a part of the encore yeah/ cause all I've got is love for love city.” - Love For Love City - Kenny Chesney-Scooter Carusoe.
Chesney crossed genres and causes when he recorded Love For Love City with Ziggy Marley.
“Ziggy Marley and his family's legacy holds so much truth for all of the people I know down there,” Kenny explained of his duet with the 49 year-old reggae artist and son of late Wailers wizard Bob.
Chesney exudes altruism by donating money and rescuing residents, anonymously at first, from his St John island home away from home after the ravages of recent and not so recent hurricanes.
He crafted the album in response to destruction upon the Virgin Islands by Hurricane Irma - proceeds from the project go to benefit Chesney's Love for Love City Fund for Virgin Island relief.
“This album means the world to me, because of what it's about and what it means to the people of the Virgin Islands ,” Chesney said.
“A lot of who I am is because of the time I've spent down there, and how it's shaped the man I've become. It's how I see the world, and how my music has evolved. So the fact No Shoes Nation has supported this record - a record where all the proceeds go to island recovery - does my heart good. There's a lot of life, and a lot of truth in these songs. The more you listen, the more you'll find. And I hope these songs, which really celebrate the spirit of the people, will keep inspiring us all no matter what we're facing, and give back for years to come.”
Chesney also promoted his Love For Love City Foundation through Sirius XM radio broadcasts with Songs For The Saints proceeds funding rescue and rebuilding projects across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
"The people of the islands faced unthinkable destruction, but somehow just kept going," Chesney explained.
"This album is to let them know we see them, and we're here to help. Every album someone buys, that money goes straight to the Love for Love City Fund , which has so far provided generators, tools, medical supplies, food and water, transporting things to the island and taking people off, raw materials for building and even instruments for the St John School for the Arts . The people who live there deserve to know they're remembered, and these two Sirius XM Specials are a great way to share the love and bring people inside the process of making Songs for the Saints ."
The project was recorded over the last several months, but Chesney had its concept in mind much earlier.
“I was at a turning point in my life on so many levels, and then Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands ," he recalled.
Chesney owned a home on the island of St. John, one of the areas of the Caribbean ravaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Chesney says that Songs for the Saints takes influence, in part, from the destruction that occurred there.
"This album isn't about St. John, so much as it's about what happened to St. John and all those islands you didn't see on the news," Chesney explained.
"It is an album about the refuges we all have, how temporary life is and the way we navigate to better places, dig in and face the destruction. And sometimes, we learn to own our wild hearts in the process."
He recorded the album when he was in the midst of evacuating friends from the handful of Caribbean islands after the hurricanes, flying in generators, water, medical supplies and tools to the ones starting the clean-up.
"There's so much to say, and so much music on this record," Chesney explained.
"Knowing where to start was hard and easy because this is the song that really holds everything together. It's a tribute to those islands and their unstoppable spirit. Even as people were coming off the islands - some just to not tax the limited resources - so many of my friends were digging in, trying to figure out what needed to be done and getting on to the work of clearing debris, creating habitable space for those staying and reminding all of us how Island Strong they all are."
"When I arrived on St. John, on a day off after taking a ferry all by myself, I walked down a street in a very special place and heard George Jones floating out a door of a bar. I walked in, sat on a barstool and found people from all over the country who had hearts like mine: dreamers who were free spirits, living a way that made sense to them. I left that day, went back out on tour, but kept going back, because it was a place I not only fit, but felt like I could disappear. I was a young adult, and I made some of the best friends of my life on those islands - and this is my way of giving back."
MINDY SMITH FLOATS BETTER BOAT
“I ain't lonely, but I spend a lot of time alone/ more than I'd like to, but I'm okay with staying home/ by how the last few months have changed/ I smile of mourn despite the pain/ I breathe in, I breathe out/ got friends to call who let me talk about/ what ain't working, what's still hurtin'/ all the things I feel like cussing out/ now and then I let it go/ around the waves I can't control/ I'm learning how to build a better boat.” - Better Boat - Liz Rose-Travis Meadows.
"Mindy's voice is so much a part of my life on the islands,” Chesney revealed.
“Mindy's Come to Jesus was an album I lived with from morning to night when I was first going down there - and her voice sounds like an angel. I remember her Come To Jesus so many nights, and so many mornings. Her voice would drift in through the windows, across the water, and it would just hold you. She's like an angel or a spirit who makes everything feel like it will be alright - and I thought that's everything this song says beyond the actual words.”
And the song's writers?
"Travis Meadows and Liz Rose really captured that raw edge that comes from being overwhelmed and unsure of how you're going to get there, but finding the faith to hang on.
"We've all been there in one way or another, but it's the ability to trust what you can't see when you're sure you can't take anymore that is so impossible to find sometimes. They not only put it in a song, but they put it on a song with a melody that feels like everything the song is trying to convey."
PIRATES AND PROPHETS
“I wish I was a pirate shipwreck down in Mexico/ where the oceans turn to silver and the beaches turn to gold/ I'd make love to some senorita in that town/ I'd get on my boat and I'd sail the ocean round/ I wish I was a pirate out there under my own flag/ running for no reason and no reason to turn back/ the salt and rum on my tongue, sails tattered and torn/ laughing in the devil's face, riding out the storm/ Ooh, one of these days/ gonna get off of this highway/ wake up in Sun Bay/ with the sunshine on my face/ Saint Christopher on a silver chain/ say a prayer and sail away.” - Pirate Song - Kenny Chesney-Jon Randall.
Chesney daubs his palette with tableaus reeking of salt, surf and serenity.
He wrote Pirate Song with prolific Texan singer-songwriter Jon Randall, now 49 and pioneer member of Alabama born Emmylou Harris's Nash Ramblers.
The Grammy winning singer, born Jon Randall Stewart in Dallas, has released five albums and is a frequent collaborator with fellow Texan Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annies pal Ashley Monroe.
Choosing Lone Star State writers is another of Chesney's strong suits.
He covered late Texan legend Guy Clark's Hemingway's Whiskey as title track to his 2010 album.
This time he revamped Gulf Moon - penned by another Texan John Baumann.
“I am honored, stunned and grateful,” Baumann said about the distinction.
“Never quit on your dreams. There is always hope.”
The poetic paean with nautical references first appeared on Baumann's 2014 record High Plains Alchemy.
“So much has happened since I went off the road in 2016," Chesney says.
"And all of it, in one way or another, has ended up on this record. It's special to me because of what it says - to me, and for me - about life, the world around us, how fragile it all can be and about somehow still finding the best parts of you, and moving towards them."
Chesney's guests on his Trip Around The Sun tour include Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne , Brandon Lay and Dierks Bentley.
"I'm just glad we have it out in time for me to play some of these songs this summer before the Trip Around the Sun tour is over," Chesney explained of his tour that started in Tampa, Florida, on April 21.
“Each one of them has a tie to my life in the islands, but also reflects some piece of what we're trying to do." Chesney features mentor Jimmy Buffett on his apt 1974 song Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season.
"And Jimmy, more than the lost shaker of salt, understands the poetry of the islands beyond what tourists see, the life, in a way that makes a song written decades ago so current. I'm honored they also want to help.”
Songs for the Saints was recorded in Nashville and mixed in Key West.
The cover art features a sailboat midst a beautiful, blue, calm body of water - a mountainous coastline is just visible behind it.
Chesney's name and album title are situated above and below the sailboat.
Songs For The Saints is on Chesney's Blue Chair imprint for Warner Music after more than 20 years with previous label, Sony Music.
"To me, music is only complete when it gets to the fans and becomes part of their lives," Chesney explained in response to the label change.
"The people at Warner understand my commitment to that idea, and they're just as committed to those ideals as I am."