March 15.2016 – Story Behind “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney

This Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally penned tune celebrates the spirit of America’s young people. Chesney first came across the song on a writing trip with McAnally, who wrote his previous hits “Somewhere With You” and “Come Over.”

Kenny Chesney was the first choice for this song, but the writers never heard back from him so Little Big Town started working on it. Shane McAnally later joined Chesney in St. John, where the pair wrote “Wild Child.” When they were flying back home, Chesney said he was worried that he didn’t have a first single for his The Big Revival album. He opened his laptop and started going through some old emails when he noticed the demo of “American Kids” that McAnally had sent him months earlier. Chesney admitted that he never listened to the song, but when he put on his headphones and gave it a spin, he was hooked and knew right away that it would be the single. McAnally says that Little Big Town was very gracious about it when he asked them to give the song up.

Lady Antebellum passed on the song before Chesney recorded it. “It just didn’t fit,” said Charles Kelley of the trio to The Tennessean. “‘American Kids’ is a song about growing up in the ’70s. It makes more sense with Kenny Chesney.”

“When I heard it, I knew I was gonna cut it,” Chesney said. “It was unlike anything I’d ever heard – and I listen to a lot of songs. The rhythms, the images, the way the melody moved… It just grabs you and holds on, but even more importantly, it feels really good.”

The song contains the line, “A little messed up, but we’re alright.” Chesney reflected: “Hey, life is hard. People work long hours, have all kinds of stuff going on in their personal lives. But if there’s one thing I’ve seen over the last 10 years, looking out at the faces in the crowd: you can’t keep my fans down. These are people who no matter what are in love with life, and they’re gonna find the good times no matter what.”

“It’s not a perfect world,” he added. “We are all a little screwed up, but we’re all okay. I love the idea of the screw up as part of it, because honestly it makes the parts that’re great, that much better. You appreciate those things that much more.”

Chesney worked with director Shaun Silva on the song’s music video, which shows the country star out in the Southern California desert with a group of young people and a colorful psychedelic school bus. “The spirit of this thing – the song, the bus, the idea of the kids riding around, having fun, playing music and just celebrating life – makes you want to get involved,” Chesney told Entertainment News. “Fun is where and how you make it. Out in the sun with a bunch of friends – and the people who work on my videos have been making them with me for more than a decade – even buckets of paint and a bus that needs to be covered can give you a reason to have fun.”

John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” are all referenced in the song (the latter with the lyric “blue jean baby”).

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Lyrics:
Doublewide Quick Stop midnight T-top
Jack in her Cherry Coke town
Momma and Daddy put their roots right here
‘Cause this is where the car broke down
Yellow dog school bus kickin’ up red dust
Pickin’ us up by a barbed wire fence
Mtv on the RCA, no A/C in the vents

We were Jesus save me, blue jean baby
Born in the USA
Trailer park truck stop, faded little map dots
New York to LA
We were teenage dreamin’, front seat leanin’
Baby, come give me a kiss
Put me on the cover of the Rolling Stone
Uptown down home American kids
Growin’ up in little pink houses
Makin’ out on living room couches
Blowin’ that smoke on a Saturday night
A little messed up, but we’re all alright

Baptist church parkin’ lot, tryin’ not to get caught
Take her home and give her your jacket
Makin’ it to second base, but sayin’ you went all the way
Monday afternoon at practice
Sisters got a boyfriend Daddy doesn’t like
Now he’s sittin’ out back, 3030 in his lap
In the blue bug zapper light

We were Jesus save me, blue jean baby
Born in the USA
Trailer park truck stop, faded little map dots
New York to LA
We were teenage dreamin’, front seat leanin’
Baby, come give me a kiss
Put me on the cover of the Rolling Stone
Uptown down home American kids
Growin’ up in little pink houses
Makin’ out on living room couches
Blowin’ that smoke on a Saturday night
A little messed up, but we’re all alright

We were Jesus save me, blue jean baby
Born in the USA
Trailer park truck stop, faded little map dots
New York to LA
We were teenage dreamin’, front seat leanin’
Baby, come give me a kiss
Put me on the cover of the Rolling Stone
Uptown down home American kids
Growin’ up in little pink houses
Makin’ out on living room couches
Blowin’ that smoke on a Saturday night
A little messed up, but we’re all alright
Writer/s: LAIRD, LUKE ROBERT / MCANALLY, SHANE L. / CLAWSON, RODNEY DALE

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About Robynn

Robynn Jaymes has spent her whole life in radio… 30 years!! And almost half of them have been at Star Country. Originally from Cincinnati, Robynn came to the area as a Liberty University student. Along with all things country music, Robynn is a big fan of Football!—The Virginia Tech Hokies, The Washington Redskins and, of course, the Cincinnati Bengals. And also, “I’m addicted to the Weather Channel,” she says. Right now, Robynn is a big fan if the music coming from Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney! Robynn is also a winner of the Billboard Air Personality of the Year award. Hear all new Warm & Fuzzies with Robynn M-F at 11:45AM!