Watch CBS News

Country music star Kenny Chesney on how his music has evolved through grief: "I'm in a much different place."

Nearly 30 years into his historic career, Kenny Chesney still gives it his all on stage. But the country superstar's music has changed after suffering devastating losses over the years. 

"I'm in a unique spot in my life and in my career, because I can't necessarily sing about the things that I sang about even 10 years ago," he said. "I just feel like emotionally and mentally, I'm in a much different place."

His latest album, the 20th of his career, is titled "Born." The record took about four years to make, Chesney said.

"I mean, maybe the album should have been called "Reborn," he said in an interview with "CBS Mornings."

His song, "Wherever You Are Tonight," is about grief and loss, something Chesney has experienced firsthand.

"In the last couple of years, there've been six people that I was really close to, that I can't call anymore," he said. "So when I heard that song, I went, 'Whoa, I know you're in a different place.' I'm talking to myself, right, 'I know you are in a much different place cause you really want to record that song.'"

Chesney recently kicked off his summer tour at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. 

"You don't dream this. You truly don't," he said about selling out stadiums for decades. 

Originally from Tennessee, Chesney got his start playing guitar in college, eventually landing gigs at a local Mexican restaurant. 

Now, Chesney has played to around 1 million fans, known as his "No Shoes Nation," nearly every summer.

"They just know this is a place where they can feel the euphoria of being alive," Chesney said.

His shows have a party vibe, but behind the scenes Chesney said he has a singular focus.

"I've always been very particular, if that's the right word," he said. "I'm particular about how I like things. I'm particular about how that stage looks. People ask me a lot, they go, 'How do you do this every night on stage? How are you so detail-oriented in the middle of all of it?' Mm-hmm and, and 'how you keep going like this?'"

His drive and attention to detail helps explain how Chesney has sustained a level of fame and success few others have achieved.

"I truly love being that person up there. I love it. And I love being in the moment with them. I love having just enough ego being up there to make the whole night happen," he said.

In addition to the evolution of his music, Chesney said he had to revisit how he dealt with the descent of adrenaline after a show.

Chesney, who used to party while on the road, said he decided instead to prioritize his health. Now, he follows a strict diet, trains like an athlete and even travels with his own ice bath.

"The ice tub changed my life," he said. "I love it because it just calms me down. It helps sustain me up there, and it also helps to heal my body after beating it up all night."

Part of being in a different place both for his music and health means Chesney is also reflecting on this journey, appreciating where it's taken him and where it may go next.

"If you're lucky enough as an artist to get to a place in your life where you're actually competing with yourself, then that's a pretty good spot to be in. You're pretty lucky."

Kenny Chesney's album, "Born," is out now.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.