Kenny Chesney may be best known for his long string of chart-topping country hits, but he’s also notorious for putting on a damn good live show. For those who haven’t had the chance to experience a Kenny Chesney show live (or for those who’d like to relive their own experience), Chesney is preparing to release Live in No Shoes Nation, a double-album featuring 30 tracks culled from 10 years worth of live performances. Guests on the album include Taylor Swift, Eric Church, Mac McAnally, and more.
Ahead of the album’s October 27 release, read a Q&A and watch an exclusive video of Chesney speaking about performing “Down the Road” with Mac McAnally below.
What is it about the song “Down the Road” that makes it so special to you?
You could see it. That boy, the young man he became… and the way Mac, like only he can do, turns him into a father hoping the boy he once was is going to be good for his little girl.
What is it about Mac as a songwriter that you admire most?
Everything. Such an easy answer, right? But look at the craftsmanship and the heart of his work. His melodies move through you, make you feel what he’s singing about. His lyrics put you there: the details, the senses, the truths. It’s what every songwriter aspires to.
What was it like getting to share the stage with Mac?
Awesome, and inspiring. He is so gentle, so humble, yet he’s a monster singer and an amazing musician. How many times has he won the CMA’s Musician of the Year Award? He makes it look so easy, just like the way he leans into the lyrics of a song.
What inspired you to put this collection of live performances together?
I’ve been taping shows off and on for over a decade. When you’re in the moment onstage, a lot of things can get by you, because you’re so focused on doing the show. So, when we came off the road last year, I started listening… just to see where I’ve been, how the band’s evolved over the years.
But what struck me, the more I listened especially, was the fans. No Shoes Nation stood out more than anything. More than the way we played, or sang, or anything I said. You could hear their passion, their heart on so many songs. The more I heard, the more I listened. The more I listened, the more I wanted the fans to hear how awesome they are.
You’ve had a lot of amazing guest performers at your shows over the years. Are there any artists you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to collaborate with on stage one day?
Sure, there are so many. But it’s that thing of “the moment.” Part of what makes collaborating magic is the friendship that those things come out of. Maybe the public doesn’t see it – Taylor [Swift] and I are friends, even when I had to take her off my tour because my alcohol sponsor couldn’t have under 21 artists. But that moment in Nashville, that song… It was perfect.
Who knows who might come out onstage? I’ve got all kinds of friends. When the time is right, you might be surprised.