Art is a powerful thing. Too many times I think that people overlook the power that art can have on an individual…or even the world. WIth that being said, I must say that I am a firm believer in the notion that music can change the world and change lives. And maybe thats because I’ve experienced the power of music and it’s ability to change someones world first hand.
And that is exactly what Kenny Chesney does for me, almost every single day. Never in my life has a musical soul touched my heart as deeply as he has. I can remember sitting in my “computer room” of my house in about 4th grade when my dad played me Kenny Chesney’s song “Anything But Mine.” In that song, he says “in the morning I’m leaving making my way back to Cleveland. . .” and it was about the same time that my best friend Isabelle was getting ready to move to Cleveland. So right away, I was drawn to Chesney’s words. I might not of known what exactly what he meant or what his message was, but there was something about his music that had me hooked from day 1.
After that day, I also remember sitting in “the computer room” looking through my dads wall of CDs and gathering all the Kenny Chesney CDs I could find. Be As You Are, Lucky Old Sun, No Shoes No Shirt No Problem, When The Sun Goes Down, The Road and the Radio, and Just Who I Am are the ones I remember piling together begging my dad If I could keep them. I think he said no. Jeez, daddy.
In fifth grade, I saw Kenny Chesney perform in nosebleed seats at M&T Bank Stadium for his Poets & Pirates tour on a whim with a long time friend of mine. If I wasn’t hooked already,then that’s what did it.
Fast forward almost 10 years, and here I am, drinking coffee at The Scullery with Kenny Chesney’s “Island Boy” blasting through my headphones as I reflect on the incredible impact he has had on my life.
I’m sure some people who aren’t a fan of the arts are sitting here thinking…really? How could a 47 year old man who I’ve never met change my life? Well…
Kenny has put smile on my face when I thought smiling was the last thing that was possible. After I got my heart broken to pieces by some stupid boy when I was 17, Kenny helped put it back together. (That is not to put down the amazing patience of my friends at that time, though). But when nighttime fell, and I found myself alone and awake at 3 in the morning, the only person who was undoubtedly there for me every time was Kenny Chesney. I could blast his music throughout my entire room and it would ease the pain or put a smile on my face. I listened to his song “Time Flies” on repeat for days where he says “So you’ve got a little heartbreak…Everything going wrong, but you’re listening to the right song…Grab yourself a cheap seat, anything southbound, headed to the islands.” His lyrics would almost always brighten my mood; or make me forget about the searing pain that I felt in my heart so often. And looking back, that’s all I was really looking for. Something to make the pain go away. And when I constantly searched myself inside and out to find something to make myself feel better, I couldn’t…But thats when I turned to Kenny as my saving grace. His words touched my heart; and I think thats when he taught me that I am young and beautiful and more importantly, too young and beautiful to be wasting months crying in bed about a stupid boy. He has a lyric that says “Sherry’s livin’ in paradise…Chasin’ something or runnin’ from something…” and it taught me that maybe that’s something we are all doing in this life. And it’s easy to do that. I was running away from my broken heart…but somewhere along the lines, I found a way to patch it back up and enjoy life as it comes.
Probably the most thing I admire about Kenny Chesney is that he seems to be the most genuine person. He never seems fake, and nothing he does or says ever seems forced. He seems to love truly with all of his heart, his lyrics seem authentic, and he seems to do everything with pure raw emotion. I think this is something a lot of people, not just artists or people in the public eye, struggle with. We, as human beings, are terrified to make ourselves vulnerable to other people. But Kenny Chesney isn’t. He has this ability to express his raw emotion in his music and he takes searing pain and turns it into beauty; and that’s something that I find to be very powerful. It was powerful to me when I needed it the most, and it’s powerful for me now. It’s a beautiful thing to listen to and to me, it’s a beautiful thing to look up to. I’m inspired by his bravery and vulnerability daily. I’ve learned through Kenny Chesney that is okay to hurt, it is okay to not to be okay at times, but it’s not okay to do nothing about it. Like he said…”If I”m gonna be down…I’m gonna be down..Way Down Here.”
But, Kenny Chesney isn’t just about depressing-heart-break all the time. He’s uplifting, funny, and light-hearted. But, he never ever becomes fake or pretends to be something or someone he isn’t. And that is an absolutely beautiful thing to watch. It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone who leads his life with genuine love for those surrounding him. It’s a beautiful thing to watch…just an artist being REAL.
Kenny Chesney also taught me that a place can mean so much more than well…just a place. A place can be filled with love and family and it doesn’t matter if that place is where you grew up or 2000 miles from where you grew up. He taught me that an island can be much more than a vacation spot; it’s a way of life that we all are embarking on together. It’s about the simplicity of life and being still. It’s about love; being with the ones you love, in a place you love, doing what you love. Sitting on the beach with a drink watching the sun move across the sky, or driving a boat into the sunset, or diving down into the coral reefs. Whatever it is…Be as you are.
So, if Kenny Chesney ever ends up seeing this (which would literally be my dream come true), I want to say THANK YOU for everything that you have done for me in these 19 years, and also A VERY SPECIAL HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL SOUL! I cannot wait to see you in a few short months!