Kenny Chesney spent a lot of time thinking about what he wanted Here And Now, his 19th studio album, to be. Having made a lot of records, featuring songs that held the lives of the members of the very voracious No Shoes Nation, he wanted to create a record that didn’t just speak to them, but held up a handful of postcards from their own lives.
With “Here And Now” hitting the Top 10 at country radio, the album of the same name struck a nerve with his fans. Between his Facebook Live with questions culled from across America and drop-ins for songs from the writers, radio interviews and a surprise video drop of Here And Now’s “We Do” that reads as a love letter to – and from – No Shoes Nation, the songwriter from East Tennessee and his music connected with almost a quarter million fans.
“I say it every day: There is no group of people like No Shoes Nation,” Chesney says. “The heart. The soul. The passion. They are always there, and they are always loud, proud and inside the music in the same way I was growing up! It matters to them, the same way it matters to me.”
For the ninth time in his career, Chesney tops the all-genre Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. “This No. 1 is so gratifying … It says so much about the players and the songwriters, everyone working in a creative capacity in Nashville, as well as all the people working to get this music into the hands of the people who love and want it.
“No Shoes Nation has always come from the music and for the songs. That’s what makes everything rock so hard and mean so much. Trying to keep finding and writing songs that speak to them sets the bar pretty high; but without the fans, maybe there would’ve been no ‘American Kids,’ ‘You & Tequila’ or ‘Here And Now.’”
Equally powerful is the reality 18 years ago, Chesney stunned the music industry as No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems topped Billboard’s Top 200 with sales of just over 235,000. After two decades of capturing the sounds of summer and realities of coming of age in the flyover, he maintains the ability to celebrate who his audience is at their most joyous, as well as in their moments of doubt.
“There’s a song on here called ‘Happy Does,’ which is a couple people whose lives aren’t perfect by most people’s standards, but they couldn’t be happier. I know a lot of people like that. and they’re a great reminder to me. It’s what ‘Here And Now,’ ‘Beautiful World’ and ‘We Do’ are, too. Take what you need, and if this music makes a difference, that’s awesome.”