Country singers need heartbreak like pastrami needs mustard, but Kenny Chesney's new album, "Lucky Old Sun," is extra spicy: he wrote it after his marriage to Renée Zellweger was annulled in 2005. Chesney spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.
You ' re late!
I moved into a new house. I have 10 different groups of people working on 10 different things. So I'm out here coordinating all of it. I looked down at the clock and I realized that I was late. I apologize.
One of your songs is called " Nowhere to Go, Nowhere to Be. " Is that a theme of your album?
It's the root of the record, for sure. In 2006, I was probably as emotionally and mentally exhausted as I'd ever been. And that was due to a lot of things—having the foot on the gas pedal constantly, and my breakup with Renée Zellweger. I got in a plane and went down to the Virgin Islands. I was completely by myself. I didn't want to be around anybody. So the next thing you know, it's me and a pen and I sat down and wrote a lot of lines of this song, "Nowhere to Go, Nowhere to Be."
Didn ' t you worry about writing about your breakup with Ren é e?
It's the truth. It's my life. I've been in a lot of states of mind in the last three years. In that way, it's a pretty honest record. I've let myself be more emotionally vulnerable in some of the lyrics. I think that was good therapy.
Are you still heartbroken?
Not at all. I already wrote those songs. I'm on to something else.
How long did it take for you to heal?
It was horrible. It took a while. Years. It's been since 2005.
How do you think Ren é e will react?
I have no idea. I don't know. It's unpredictable.
Do you still talk to her?
No. Well, every now and then. I don't want to say this whole record is about her.
Are you dating someone else now?
Do you think that ' s why you ' re in a better place?
It doesn't hurt. I just feel more solid in my skin. I'm in a good place right now. I needed to get those songs out.
Are all your songs autobiographical?
The majority of them are.
What about " Ten With a Two, " about a guy who goes home with a 10. When he wakes up, she ' s a 2.
That's definitely autobiographical. I admit it's not the classiest song I've ever recorded. It's an old Willie Nelson song. This is probably going to be my beer-goggles song. There are girls who are going to listen and say, you know what, I've been there, too. A girl leaving a bar, thinking she's left with Brad Pitt and waking up with me or you.
How do you know I ' m a 2?
You're right. So waking up with me.
Where do you meet all these 2 ' s?
That was my reality in college a lot. All the guys who have been on the road with me, when I played this song, their jaw dropped.
Have you always had groupies?
Yeah. But they've gotten a lot prettier since more success came.
A guitar is a good thing.
What do you do to keep busy on the road?
We play PlayStation 2 college football all the time. We play Rock Band. I love it. It's hard. I'm horrible at it.
You ' d think that since you ' re a musician, you ' d be pretty good.
I'm good on certain songs, but not that great. But it's addictive, man.