When Kenny Chesney made Songs for the Saints, he was in the midst of evacuating friends from the handful of Caribbean islands, flying in generators, water, medical supplies and tools to the ones starting the clean-up and writing as in-the-moment as he ever has. With his Trip Around The Sun Tour now off to a resounding start – it played to a sold-out 51,312 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend – he’s ready to start sharing the music with his fervent No Shoes Nation.
In trying to hone in on the song that embodies the deeply personal song cycle to introduce Songs, Chesney settled on the title track. Lean, stretched across a single acoustic guitar figure that’s picked with resolve and a certain strength, “Song for the Saints” will be available everywhere on June 1.
“There’s so much to say, and so much music on this record,” Chesney offers. “Knowing where to start was hard and easy, because this is the song that really holds everything together. It’s a tribute to those islands and their unstoppable spirit. Even as people were coming off the islands – some just to not tax the limited resources – so many of my friends were digging in, trying to figure out what needed to be done and getting on to the work of clearing debris, creating habitable space for those staying and reminding all of us how Island Strong they all are.”
Songs for the Saints captures the transformation of vulnerability into unspeakable strength and courage. Tempering the devastation that Hurricanes Irma and Maria left across the bracelet of islands known as the Saints with an unstoppable elation and celebration, the album renders the essence of the freedom the songwriter/superstar found there – and the deep joy and humanity the residents demonstrate on a daily basis.
“When I arrived on St. John, on a day off after taking a ferry all by myself, I walked down a street in a very special place and heard George Jones floating out a door of a bar,” he remembers. “I walked in, sat on a barstool and found people from all over the country who had hearts like mine: dreamers who were free spirits, living a way that made sense to them. I left that day, went back out on tour, but kept going back, because it was a place I not only fit, but felt like I could disappear. I was a young adult, and I made some of the best friends of my life on those islands – and this is my way of giving back.”
With “Get Along,” the banjo-driven hit celebrating what we have in common instead of being offended by our differences hit, residing firmly in the Top 10, the horse of a different color for the album’s tone offers the collective truth that defines Songs for the Saints. As Chesney says, “It’s a song for times like these from an album about the places that save you.”