Artist Hookup: Kenny Chesney on ‘Cosmic Hallelujah’ and the Creative Process

By Robyn Collins

More than two decades ago, Kenny Chesney got his first publishing deal with Acuff-Rose, the home of Hank Williams Sr. He’s had twenty-eight number one hits; as a guy who writes songs and also takes submissions from outside writers, he knows a lot about songwriting. “You have to trust the process,” he says.

“Sure, you can cut 10 great songs and have hits with ‘em, but I learned as a kid, writing songs with people like Whitey Shafer and Dean Dillon, creativity is more powerful than that. You can’t just dial it up, but when it happens, you better make sure you protect it.”

And he has certainly been protective of his process on his new album.

Chesney decided to prioritize honoring the creative process over hitting a release date. He reportedly went in to record a couple of late-arrival songs and an old favorite, delaying the release of the album. When it all started coming together, he says that he realized that Cosmic Hallelujah captured the essence of everything life is supposed to be.

Recording between performance dates on his Spread The Love Tour – which included 14 stadium shows — Chesney entered the studio with the same explosive energy that was captivating crowds across the country.

Related: Kenny Chesney Premieres ‘Setting the World on Fire’ Video

“To have that road momentum to take into the studio, that’s something you can’t recreate,” he says. “That’s a whole other kind of energy, and you rarely get to be rested enough to bring it to recording. When we got in there with these songs, I think it lifted everything up.”

“Setting the World on Fire,” featuring an unlikely duet partner: P!nk. “Rarely do songs capture being in the moment like this one does,” Chesney says. “I knew I wanted someone whose voice holds fireworks and has a dusky quality to it, and there aren’t very many people who can create that like P!nk. She really was the perfect person, ‘cause I think she understands that moment we’re singing about the same way I do.”

“Young,” “I Go Back,” “Who You’d Be Today” and “There Goes My Life,” meanwhile, speak to the heart of anyone growing up beyond the slick veneer of urban living.

“Coach,” or the prayerful “Jesus & Elvis,” respects unspoken tradition, which Chesney values.  “People get so caught up in chasing this idea of what they should have, getting ahead or needing this thing or the other. The reality I’ve found is when you look around, you’ve probably got it pretty good. If you’d just appreciate where you are, you’d be amazed at how happy you can be,” says the singer.

Cosmic Hallelujah is finally due out this week, on October 28.

For your chance to meet Kenny Chesney at the 2017 Tortuga Festival, head over to our contest page to enter.

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