12 Things My Kids Have Learned From Kenny Chesney
In our home, and in my car, we listen to my music. You will not find me driving around town rocking out to Raffi, The Wheels on the Bus, or Snuggle Puppy. Nope, not a chance. While I have a varied taste in music, we all have favorites and my favorite is Kenny Chesney.
My love affair with Kenny dates back to high school, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to talk about something that started seven years ago with the littlest members of No Shoes Nation: Kenny Hour.
Seven years ago, I was blessed with an adorable baby boy who did a whole lot of THIS:
I tried everything to calm him: shushing, swaddling, nursing… I could go on and on and on. The truth of the matter is: nothing worked for very long and during the much-dreaded witching hour, nothing worked at all.
Eventually, after I-don’t-know-how-many-months-of-trying-everything, I came to the conclusion that I would just have to roll with it. In the name of This Too Shall Pass, and in attempt to save any remaining bits of sanity, I would crank up Kenny Chesney and dance in our kitchen with my crying baby. Kenny’s voice softened the wails, if only in my mind, and restored something in my soul.
As the years went on, the memories of colic faded, but with two more kiddos added to the mix, the witching hour remained. So, too, did Kenny Hour. Sometimes dancing with the kids would result in happy kids, and other times the crabbiness continued, but Kenny Hour always made me feel better.
At some point in those early years of motherhood, something magical began to happen. I’d shout, “IIIIIIIIIT’S KENNY HOUR!!” over the witching hour madness, and the kids would come running to dance with me, with smiles on their little faces. Later, they began to request Kenny Hour when they were feeling down. Later still, they began requesting their favorite Kenny songs.
Nowadays, at 7-, 5-, and 3-years-old, my children enjoy choreographing their very own Kenny videos:
It’s been seven years and the witching hour is absent most days, but Kenny Hour remains. What was once an act of complete desperation has become a family tradition that will remain in our hearts forever.
Why I let my kids listen to Kenny Chesney
I know so many parents who are reluctant to let their children listen to their music. They either feel that it is inappropriate or selfish of them to do so. I disagree. I believe so much can be gained from discussing song lyrics.
I listen to Kenny with my children for three reasons:
- [My] music makes me happy.
- Music makes my children happy.
- Music is educational.
If you could just hear the conversations my children have about a given song’s subject matter, not to mention their ability to analyze song lyrics! They interpret the songs quite differently than I do (they always think Kenny is talking about his sister, whereas I imagine he’s talking about me), but the conversations that we have are amazing. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:
Learning happens all the time if you just relax and let it.
One might wonder if allowing my kids to rock out to K.C. has ever backfired on me. Yes, it has, on two occasions:
- There was that one time at school, when the teacher asked what song the class should sing next, and Leo suggested Keg in the Closet.
- There was that other time when we were leaving church and my 3-year-old shouted, “Praise the Lord and pass me a copperhead!”
But, do you know what? Both incidents, while embarrassing for me, caused others to laugh.
I conclude that Kenny spreads joy and therefore I will risk embarrassment and carry on.
Lessons Learned from Kenny Hour
What have my children learned from all those hours spent dancing in the kitchen, or driving around town while listening to Kenny? They’ve learned a lot, folks. Here’s just a smidgen:
1. Breathing in and out is a blessing.
One of my favorite songs is I’m Alive, a Kenny- Dave Matthews duet that exudes gratitude and positivity. My children love this song as much as I do, and we have had many a conversation about its message.
So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars that I’m alive and well.
It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive.
And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well, I’m alive and well.
“I’m Alive” (2008)
2. Try not to judge others. Look beyond appearances.
One of my daughter’s favorite songs is Lindy, which tells the story of a barefooted island man who walks around town talking to himself, smoking cigarettes, and playing church pianos. The lyrics shed some light on Lindy’s background and ask the listener to “look past his dirty shirt”. Lindy has spurred many conversations about those who are misunderstood and judged at first glance, and the importance of looking beyond appearances.
Lindy’s seen it all
Storms and hurricanes
Some say he’s insane
No one knows his last name
But I believe
He’s the salt of the Earth
Just look past his dirty shirt and you will see just what he’s worth.
3. Believe in yourself and chase your dreams.
You can’t help but dance when Big Star comes on, folks. And, believe me, we do! It’s the story of a young woman who showed bravery by believing in herself and chasing her dreams despite naysayers. All children can benefit from that message.
She was aware of her insecurities as she took the stage.
She was convinced if she got up there that she’d be discovered some day.
So she belted it, she hit the high notes fearlessly.
Oh, she melted them as she brought them to their feet.
“Big Star” (2002)
4. Don’t be afraid to apologize.
My children believe that What I Need to Do is a song about a sibling squabble, rather than a lovers’ quarrel, but the message is the same regardless of your interpretation: listen to your gut. We talk often about that feeling in your belly when you know you should apologize but you’re too stubborn, and we discuss the importance of apologizing for wrongs and forgiving others.
What I need to do is turn this car around
Drive as fast as I can ’til I see the lights of our hometown
And run to her, take her in my arms
Make her see how sorry I am, well that shouldn’t be so hard
But I drive on
Yes I drive on, and on, and on.
“What I Need to Do” (1999)
5. The best things in life aren’t things at all.
The Life tells the story of a wealthy man’s life-changing conversation with a fisherman while on vacation. My children and I talk about how it’s easy to want the material things that those around you have, but that true happiness does not come from things, but from connections. Happiness is found in the space between all that other stuff.
Somewhere over Texas I thought of my Lexus
And all the stuff I work so hard for
And all the things that I’ve gathered from climbing that ladder
Didn’t make much sense anymore.
They say my nest egg ain’t ready to hatch yet.
They keep holding my feet to the fire.
They call it paying the price so that one day in life
I’ll have what I need to retire.
And just fish and play my guitar
And laugh at the bar with my friends
Go home to my wife and pray every night
I can do it all over again.
And to think that I thought for a while there that I had it made
When the truth is I’m really just dying to live like Jose.
“The Life” (2008)
6. EVERYTHING happens for a reason.
I cry every single time I hear There Goes My Life! Its message is such an important one. In this life, so many things happen that are viewed as mistakes or bad luck, but so often – in retrospect- these “mistakes” were actually blessings in disguise. Once my kids stop giggling at Mum drying her tears, we always have a great conversation about blessings.
And he said,
“There goes my life.
There goes my future, my everything
Might as well kiss it all goodbye
There goes my life.”
A couple years of up all night and
Few thousand diapers later
That mistake he thought he made
Covers up the refrigerator
Oh yeah, he loves that little girl.
“There Goes My Life” (2004)
7. Life is good.
My children love to sing Life is Good at the top of their little lungs. It is a simple little ditty about appreciating all the little things while you have them. You can’t argue with that message, folks!
Life is good, the grass is green
The good Lord’s smilin’ on you and me
Gonna knock on wood
Sweet sunshine everywhere I look
You love me like no one could, life is good.
“Life is Good” (1999)
8. Don’t take anyone for granted.
While He Still Knows Who I Am is another tear-jerker with a heartfelt message. Life is short. Never take anyone in your life for granted, and never be afraid to say, “I love you” or show affection for someone you care about. We always talk about how this is why we say, “I love you” before bed, when ending phone calls, and when ending a visit with loved ones.
Mama says he can’t remember.
Daddy thinks he still can.
I’m going back to see him
While he still knows
Who I am.
This time I’m gonna hug him
Instead of just shaking hands.
Gonna tell him that I love him
While he still knows
Who I am.
“While He Still Knows Who I Am” (2012)
9. When life gets crazy, take time to be still.
Me and Marley is one of my kids’ favorite songs. We talk about how, in this life, it is important to discover what makes you deeply happy and to do those things when you are feeling overwhelmed. My children love to picture Kenny, after a busy summer tour, relaxing on a hammock, listening to Bob Marley, and sipping an adult beverage.
God knows I love my life and I thank Him every night
But sometimes I feel the knife of responsibility.
And the struggle and the strife, what’s wrong and what’s right
Has got me searching for the light and my place of peace.
Where no one’s around
But the silence and the sound
Of “Three Little Birds” for company.
I got a sip of something strong,
A secondhand “Old Man and the Sea”,
Out here with me,
Me and Marley,
Me and Marley.
“Me and Marley” (2012)
10. Don’t waste a beautiful day feeling sad.
Save it for a Rainy Day is a song from Kenny’s most recent album and it’s already a classic in our kitchen. Its message is so true: bad things happen but beauty is everywhere. Don’t waste your time focusing on the negative when you could be enjoying all the positives around you.
Cause the sun’s too bright, the sky’s too blue
Beer’s too cold to be thinking ’bout you
Gonna take this heartbreak and tuck it away
Save it for a rainy day.
Yeah, the music’s too good, my friends are all out
And they’re all too high to be bringing them down
If they ask about you, I’ve got nothing to say
I’ll save it for a rainy day.
“Save It for a Rainy Day” (2014)
11. Tequila can make you crazy.
Like all parents, I have had conversations with my children about the dangers of addiction to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. Kenny has a bunch of alcohol-themed songs, including You and Tequila, Hemingway’s Whiskey, Keg in the Closet, Beer in Mexico, Tequila Loves Me, etc., and my children have come to this conclusion: alcohol, and especially tequila, can make you crazy. I’d like for them to hold on to this message for as long as possible, folks!
Cause you and tequila make me crazy
Run like poison in my blood
One more night could kill me, baby
One is one too many, one more is never enough.
“You and Tequila” (2010)
12. Music and memories are deeply tied.
In the songs I Go Back and Live Those Songs, Kenny sings about the magic of music, how one song can transport you in an instant to another place and time. My kids and I have discussed how our senses are deeply connected to our memories and emotions and how one song or scent can evoke a vivid memory.
I have little doubt that Kenny Hour will live on in my children’s hearts and memories for years to come, and I know that it will in mine.
Every time I hear that song
I go back, I go back.
We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives
Takes us to another place and time.
“I Go Back” (2004)
See? My children have learned so much from the hours we have spent rocking out to Kenny Chesney. Really, the only song that they have difficulty with is When the Sun Goes Down. They think that the song must have a typo because everyone knows that everything gets hotter when the sun goes UP, not down. And they’re always asking me whether Kenny actually has an Uncle Kracker!
Did Mom learn anything from Kenny Hour?
I’ve learned that music can turn a bad day around. I’ve learned to rejoice in the ordinary joys of this life. I’ve learned that family traditions are often borne and not made.
But, if I had to choose just one thing, it would be this: DON’T BLINK.
Don’t blink, ’cause just like that you’re six years old
And you take a nap
And you wake up and you’re twenty-five
And your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink, you just might miss
Your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads
Next thing you know your better half
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years
Goes faster than you think, so don’t blink
No, don’t blink
Life goes faster than you think
So don’t blink
“Don’t Blink” (2007)
I wish I could stop time and savor every last magical drop of these days with my children. I know Kenny Hour won’t last forever. Soon, they’ll have their own musical interests, their own pursuits. Dancing with mom in the kitchen won’t be cool anymore. One day, my children will realize that She’s From Boston wasn’t really written for me, and that Kenny doesn’t come to Boston every summer for my birthday.
Every summer, on my birthday weekend, I go to see Kenny at Gillette Stadium with my Kenny-lovin’ crew. Usually we see Kenny on his last night at Gillette, which also happens to be the last stop on his summer tour.
This year, we got tickets for Friday and I’m working on convincing my husband (the most recently-inducted member of No Shoes Nation in our little family), that he needs to go see Kenny in concert with me on Saturday night. After all, our birthdays are coming and we’re turning a combined 80-years and there’s absolutely nothing like seeing Kenny on his last night at Gillette. If you see Schizz around, be sure to tell him this: Kenny Chesney is always a good idea.
My kids always ask me when they can come, too. I have my fingers and toes crossed that one day, when they are older, they will still want to go with me.
I never wanted nothin’ more!
And many thanks to Bose for making it sound like Kenny is in the kitchen with us:
Folks, this Welcome to the Sandbar No Shoes Nation member of the month made it to Kenny in Boston twice. It was amazing and, after my second kid-free weekend ever, I feel refreshed and ready to take on this motherhood gig with renewed energy.
Now, it’s your turn. Do you listen to your music with your children? Why or why not? Share here!
Well, I’m what I am and I’m what I’m not
I’m sure happy with what I’ve got
I live to love and laugh a lot
And thats all I need.
~ Kenny Chesney, Never Wanted Nothing More
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