By Kurt Wolff
Talk about nostalgia. Kenny Chesney’s latest single, “When I See This Bar,” is all about digging back into old memories–reflecting, chewing and otherwise tossing them around to see what sort of emotions play out as a result.
The memories in this particular song all revolve around one place–a bar in the tropics that he’s long frequented, and where over the years he’s made quite a few friends. And also, where he may have learned a life lesson or two.
The video (watch it below) begins with a simple concept. Chesney strums an acoustic guitar alone, while vintage film footage and other hazy, tinted images flash past like grains of, well, sand (this is a beach bar, after all). But Chesney’s song is about more than just “sandy floors and ceiling fans” and memories of him and his pals “living like pirates out among the stars.” The bar represents a particular point in his life — one that he eventually grew out of, once he shifted into a different phase of life with new goals and responsibilities. Neither ‘place’ is necessarily better or worse than the other, just different.
“Pieces of our past slowly slip away,” he sings. And it’s true–we’ve all experienced it. And while he may have moved on, his life vastly different now than it was back then, the moment he steps back into this bar, “time just stands still.”
“I see a kid coming into his own,” Chesney continues, “and a man learning to move on” and “trying to find his way.” At this point, the video shifts to show a contemporary Chesney, now playing guitar with a band (and massive Marshall amps) behind him on a much-larger stage. The images, too, have lost their ‘vintage’ glow.
So, when you drink in all these memories, a question then arises: ‘Now what?’ And that’s exactly Chesney’s next line. “I wonder where we go from here?” he sings. “Life ain’t over but it’s always near.”
Our pasts are full of powerful experiences, Chesney’s song appears to convey. Some people can get overly enamored with that past (“stuck in still life,” he sings); others move on. In his case, the memory of just such a moment–while clearly bittersweet–is something he couldn’t forget if he tried.