Monday, May 2, 2011
– By Dan MacIntosh
Kenny Chesney appeared informal and relaxed during his interview Thursday with GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Robert Sanetelli in Los Angeles. Although the Lakers weren't playing at the nearby Staples Center, there was still a sports-enthusiast-turned-musician in the house, there to talk about his music, his life and a little sports.
Chesney admitted at The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, "I wanted to be a baseball player," from the outset. There, in front of a small crowd of fans and media, Sanetelli took us through some of the key events in Chesney's life. His first musical memories included the sound of mom singing, as well as singing in church. However, when Chesney heard The Eagles' vocal harmonies on Take It to the Limit, his ears perked up like they never had before. Surprisingly, Chesney didn't pick up the guitar until he was already a junior in college. Once he'd mastered a few chords and could play some favorite songs, he was hooked.
One of the key revelations that came out tonight was the relationship Chesney has with Bruce Springsteen. Chesney loves the Boss because he is "a sucker for the truth," and singer/songwriters oftentimes have a special knack for getting right to the truth. One time, Chesney shared with Springsteen how frustrating it can be to start a song and not finish it until long after starting it. Springsteen reminded Chesney that songs can wait, but you have to live your life right now.
Later, Chesney sounded just like a fan when he described how Springsteen once made a surprise visit to his band bus while he was on tour. He also shared a story about how Springsteen and band took a train - with all their gear - from New Jersey to New Orleans for just one show. Such dedication to the fans obviously impresses Chesney.
Although Chesney loves the creative process of being a songwriter, he told this gathering, "I gotta work hard at it." He also said that it's tough to write on the road; he needs to be in a place where he can solely focus on writing. One exception to the rule was the song I Go Back, which Chesney wrote while driving through Colorado.
This evening was promoted as an interview-only occasion, although Chesney still rewarded attendees with a little singing. With just an acoustic guitar, he performed You and Tequila, but admitted it sounds much better with Grace Potter singing on it. He also sang a little bit of Old Blue Chair.
When Chesney is performing on a regular concert stage, he sometimes comes off a little cocky. Maybe that's just the athlete in him. However, when simply talking, the man comes off much more humble and likable. Tonight, it was a treat to get to know the real Kenny Chesney a little bit better.