Kenny Chesney knew when he took a year off to focus on music, he wanted to push the envelope without losing his roots or leaving his fans behind. If he was nervous about the shifts in The Big Revival – just nominated for the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year, it’s apparent the moves were spot-on as “Save It For A Rainy Day” becomes its fourth consecutive No.1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
“When I went to look for or write songs, I wanted to speak to my audience about their lives in ways I’d never done before,” Chesney says. “I didn’t want to say the same things – and I wanted to reflect the free-spirited, work hard, give-it-everything nature of the No Shoes Nation and people who love country music in general. It seemed like a pretty big thing to try to do, but the response to this album and the songs at radio tells me it was worth every bit of the work, the search, the starting over – because in the end, I make this music about my life, but also for everyone who’s ever found a piece of their living in songs, too.”
The blues-shelving, life-affirming No. 1 follows the CMA Single and Song of the Year nominated “American Kids,” “Til It’s Gone” and CMA Musical Event nominated “Wild Child,” featuring Grace Potter, to the top of the charts. On Billboard, it marks Chesney’s 26th No. 1 hit.
It’s been quite a year for Chesney, who shattered attendance records – often his own – at several NFL stadiums including Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, Minneapolis’ Target Stadium, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and East Rutherford, NJ’s MetLife Stadium, before closing The Big Revival Tour 2015 down with more than 120,000 people at Foxborough’s, Mass.’s Gillette Stadium.
“I believe music is life and music is medicine,” says the man deemed “The King of the Road” by The Wall Street Journal. “You have to really push what’s there to keep giving people more, but you don’t want to lose the essence or your roots in the process. It was that way with the shows this summer, too. And what I learned from how hard those fans rocked with us this summer is that people will embrace it if you push them. Don’t just give them the same, but keep reaching, keep writing true to life, because that’s what they really want.”
The Big Revival has been a watershed for the high-velocity entertainer – described by The Dallas Morning News as “two parts Mick Jagger, one part Bruce Springsteen and one part Billy Graham.” With its progressive songcraft, it joins the equally progressive and critically-lauded Hemingway’s Whiskey in producing four No. 1 hits, but this is the first time they have landed consecutively.
“Some is luck, some is traffic,” allows the only country act in Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Past 25 Years. “But I think a lot has to do with the fans and radio – and their passion for the music. ‘Til It’s Gone’ said live life right down to the last drop – and ‘Wild Child’ was about what makes women matter: their spirit. But ‘Save It For A Rainy Day,’ that song is maybe most important because it reminds you to live right now and not let things get you down to where you miss how good life can be. I’m thrilled we have four in a row, because it’s connecting in a good way.”
With yet another personal record set and seven CMA nominations (Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Song of the Year and Musical Event of the Year, plus producer nods for Album and Single), Chesney is gearing up for Nov. 4’s “The 49th Annual CMA Awards,” telecast live November 3 on ABC from the Bridgestone Arena.