Casey Beathard, Dave Turnbull Look Back at Writing Kenny Chesney Hit “The Boys of Fall” On Its 10th Anniversary

In July of 2010, Kenny Chesney released the first single on his 12th studio album, Hemingway’s Whiskey. 10 years later and the track “The Boys of Fall” still resonates with football-lovers everywhere, but this season the song might have a new meaning to it.

Videos by American Songwriter

When “The Boys of Fall” was released 10 years ago, fans could still attend games and athletes could still play in the games. This year because of the coronavirus, we don’t really know how the football season will go.

In 2009, when Casey Beathard and Dave Turnbull co-wrote “The Boys of Fall,” which was inspired by their love for football, the players and fans were prepping for the beginning of the season. The song peaked at No. 14 in September and by October of 2010, the song had hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.

Turnbull shared with American Songwriter what this experience was like and how these two songwriters came to write together.

“We had written many times before, I’ve known him for years,” says Turnbull. “It was kind of football weather; it went from this complete heat like it is now, to the first chilly day where you could feel the cool in the air, that kinda felt like football.”

The title “The Boys of Fall” came from an email that was sent to Beathard that included the phrase and after deciding on that title, “it started writing itself,” says Turnbull.

Beathard explains that once Chesney heard the song, he knew he would be the one to sing it.

“It was phenomenal. I think the song was written for Kenny. I can’t see anybody else doing it. His passion and his vision for what he does, that is his life,” says Beathard. “We didn’t have really any big expectations of it, because it wasn’t the common narrative on radio. So we didn’t know what to do with it, but Kenny did. Kenny saw it and as soon as he heard it he said, ‘I see this whole thing, I get it.’”

“We’re just grateful that he saw what it meant to us and took the time to put together a documentary and a video that just impacted so many people.”

While fans love watching the competitiveness and seeing their favorite team walk off the field with a win, there is much more to football than just the game. The emotional music video for “The Boys of Fall” reveals this.  

The video directed by Shaun Silva, opens with Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints and 1982 Central alumnus, giving a motivating speech to the team in the locker room. This was the same locker room where he once prepared to head out to the field as a player at Naperville Central High School in Illinois. Naperville Central Football Coach, Mike Stine, shared what it was like to be able to see the video come to life in person.

“When I watch that video, I still get goosebumps. That locker room talk couldn’t have talked about high school football any better.”

It’s not every day a small, suburban town in Illinois gets the chance to be one of the settings of a music video for a well-known country artist, such as Kenny Chesney. When Coach Stine heard the news, he was all for it, even though the timing wasn’t the best.

“We decided this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, let’s go ahead and do it. Just to be part of that whole experience, it was great for our whole program, for me personally, for our players and for our school.”

One of the many reasons people love football is for the excitement of the game, how it keeps you on your toes. This game wasn’t looking good for the Naperville Central Redhawks who were down 17-0 at halftime, but in football, the game isn’t over until the clock runs out. The Redhawks came together as a team at the end of the game, even with all the distractions of the camera crew and the pressure of being watched by Sean Payton.

“We came back and ended up winning the game 21-17 in dramatic fashion. It was a ‘made for TV’ game, except it was real life.”

The song and the short video weren’t enough for Chesney. Following the release of the single, the popular singer decided to take a year off touring and expand upon the music video, to produce a “The Boys of Fall” documentary for ESPN.

Beathard even got to see one of his oldest son’s football games filmed for the video. Luckily, they won the game that night.

“He thought he was just going to be making a video and it turned into much more. That documentary was a story about life, living and working for your brothers and sisters, following the rules and doing what it takes to get things done. That was his message,” says Beathard.

Coach Stine expressed hope that his team, as well as the other high school teams, would be able to play this season. Unfortunately, it has recently been announced that there will likely be no fall football season for high schools, colleges or universities in Illinois and many other states.

Even though “The Boys of Fall” may not be heard on the field this year, you can still listen to the song to keep the memories of the Friday night lights alive, until we are all able to return to it in person.

“I think it may stir up even more appreciation for community, just coming together in the name of something. It’s so awesome. There’s nothing like Fridays, Saturdays and even Sundays when everybody comes together. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, we can turn it off, go to that game, cheer for our favorite team and be part of something, that really means a lot to us in our small communities,” says Beathard. “I think it’ll build a bigger appreciation for the game as it comes and goes this fall, without football to hold onto.”

Hopefully the fans will soon return to the stands and the players will be able to step on the field to feel the chill, smell the fresh cut grass and think, “I’m back in my helmet, cleats, and shoulder pads standing in the huddle, listening to the call, fans going crazy for the boys of fall.”

 Listen to “The Boys of Fall” down below:

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