Kenny Chesney – “Ain’t Back Yet”

Juli Thanki | February 16th, 2010

kenny-chesney-aint-back-yetKenny Chesney’s newest single begins with the couplet “I heard a song ’bout a ramblin’ man/Bought a guitar and I started a band.” Whether he’s singing about classic ramblin’ tunes by Hank Williams or the Allman Brothers, it’s never a good idea to begin a bad song with allusions to better ones. It’s all downhill from there.

“Ain’t Back Yet” is one of two songs newly tacked on to the soon to be re-released Greatest Hits II (the other one is “This Is Our Moment”). It’s also going to play during the closing credits of Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3-D. Let’s hope the song isn’t representative of the movie. Unlike Chesney’s singles of the past four or five years, there’s not a trace of beachy pop to be found here. And for once, that’s a bad thing. When “Ain’t Back Yet” starts up, it sounds like a second rate Jason Aldean song. The drums and Generic Guitar Riff #27 lead into an average vocal performance and bland lyric.

Co-writers Craig Wiseman (“The Good Stuff,” et al.) and Chris Tompkins (“Before He Cheats”) hit all the Upbeat Summer Hit buzzwords (guitars, Corvettes, girls), but “Ain’t Back Yet” is still boring despite their best efforts. Although we’ve heard lyrics like “Looking back at the moments black and white/I wouldn’t change a thing that could change my life/For the worse, for the better/Man, I was gone, gone forever” before, a strong, convincing vocal could have made it sound fresh, or at least captured the listener’s attention. Chesney’s phoning it in; both the laid-back charm and the ability to sell a story that he’s exhibited on other songs just aren’t there.

Of course, this single’s weaknesses won’t slow its success on the charts. At this point in his career Chesney could release three and a half minutes of armpit farts and it’d break into the Top 10. But if you’re not a die-hard Kenny fan from the soles of your flip-flops to the brim of your straw cowboy hat, stay away from “Ain’t Back Yet.”

Thumbs Down

1 Ping

  1. [...] Source [...]
  1. Thomas
    February 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    …thank god for that!

  2. JOSH
    February 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I am actually a pretty big Chesney fan (I know opinions of him can differ greatly), but this song just does not deliver. “Generic, average & bland” describe this single to a T. I’m hoping to hear something more along the lines of “Better As A Memory” again from Kenny in the future.

  3. Cardsgal
    February 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Chesney’s Capricorn record was a gem, his first BNA effort was decent, and just about everything since has been utter dreck. I can’t imagine who actually buys these records. And I am no basher of mainstream country; I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Shania Twain, for example. But Chesney is a mystery.

  4. Gloria
    February 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Man, I can’t get past those armpit farts!! That is so funny, but so true!! Can’t stand the song! I’ve always thought he wasn’t that great of a singer.

  5. Nicolas
    February 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I hate Kenny Chesney, and its a shame radio plays his crap so much… this single just debuted at #23. =/

  6. Rick
    February 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    The comparison to Jason Aldean is apt since both have achieved levels of success that really don’t seem justified by their talent. Mellow melodic mediocrity for the muddled masses is the name of Kenny’s very successful game. Kenny’s kind of like the last decade’s Kenny Rogers, without the really memorable songs or cheesy Dolly Parton duet….

  7. Chris N.
    February 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone doing a bonus-tracks-added re-release of a greatest-hits album a few months after it came out.

  8. Mayor JoBob
    February 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I’m a fan of pre-greatest hits Chesney only. That’s the real Chesney. I have yet to hear this song but I probably won’t hate it.

  9. Rick
    February 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Chris, Jessica Phillips definitely gives fewer stars in her album reviews at Country Weekly than you ever did! Its grade deflation! Johhny Gimble’s latest earns only 3 stars and the recent album from The Texas Sapphires garners only 2.5 stars! I tell you, that gal is hard to please! (lol)


  10. Jeff P.
    February 17, 2010 at 8:58 am

    After reading the recent reviews I for one am glad not every song delivers the meaning of life with subtle nuances. I like Kenny’s new song. His music is always good at a party, people know it.

  11. waynoe
    February 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Wilcox – Coldwater Jane – DOWN
    Deusner – Todd Jones – DOWN
    Malec – Fast Ryde – DOWN
    Boldt – Katie Armiger – DOWN
    Gazdziak – Jo Dee Messina – DOWN
    Justus – Taylor Swift – DOWN
    Thanki – Jewel – DOWN
    Boldt – Lady Antebellum – DOWN
    Wilcox – Craig Morgan – UP
    Justus – Alan Jackson – UP
    Gazdziak – Emily West – UP
    Boldt – Reba McEntire – UP
    Deusner – Carter’s Chord – DOWN
    Justus – Danny Gokey – DOWN
    Thanki – David Nail – DOWN
    Boldt – Martina McBride – UP
    Justus – Trace Adkins – DOWN
    Boldt – David Ball – UP
    Thanki – Brandi Carlile – Up
    Justus – Sammy Kershaw – UP
    Malec – Jaron Lowenstein – UP
    Justus – Jimmy Wayne – DOWN
    Wilcox – Tyler Dickerson – UP
    Boldt – Jason Aldean – DOWN
    Thanki – Kenny Chesney – DOWN
    Deusner – Laura Bell Bundy – DOWN

    Current tally (Down – 16 / UP – 10)

    By the way, this is a running tally and does not reflect my personal critique of each critic’s assessment. FYI only.

  12. Rick
    February 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Kenny’s popularity remains high, well at country radio at least. Here’s the MediaBase weekly Adds tally at Top 40 country radio this week (among reporting stations that is):

    The Mediabase Most-Added Singles This Week:
    1) Kenny Chesney/Ain’t Back Yet (80)
    2) George Strait/I Gotta Get To You (29)
    3) Martina McBride/Wrong Baby Wrong (21)
    4) Reba/Keep On Loving You (18)
    5) Tim McGraw/Still (18)
    6) Tyler Dickerson/Tell Your Sister I’m Single (14)
    7) Ash Bowers/Ain’t No Stopping Her Now (13)

    Looks like I won’t be tuning back to Top 40 country radio within say the next decade….

  13. Noeller
    February 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    When I first listened to this song, I was so shocked that there was no trace of “Island”, that I didn’t know what to think and went “Jeeze, this is different so therefore, it’s good…” but I have a feeling that after a few more listens, I might not be feeling the same way.

    I love the poster who said they’re a “pre-Greatest Hits Chesney” fan, which is just how I feel. It’s sometimes hard to remember Chesney as an honest-to-goodness “Country” singer, but he was at one time. “Grandpa Told Me So” and “Back Where I Come From” are still my two favourite tracks.

  14. AtlantaFan
    February 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Oh my gosh, I thought I would lose it with “At this point in his career Chesney could release three and a half minutes of armpit farts and it’d break into the Top 10.”

    I’m not a big KC fan, and this song didn’t sound like a recent KC song. I wouldn’t buy it, but it’s zooming up the charts.

  15. Kyle
    February 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Okay, I’ll say it… I really enjoy this song. Is the lyric cliche? Yep. Am I crazy about the verses? Nope. But something about the chorus melody and phrasing is just so fun/nostalgic that it fits KC perfectly.

    I think we in Nashville tend to overanalyze every once a while, and overweight original lines while underweighting how well the music and words fit together to create the feeling intended by the writer.

    This song probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it wasn’t Wiseman, but for a fun summer song, I think it’s great (reminds me of “Young”). Hey, at least it’s not “Summer Nights”…

  16. A-Dub
    February 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I actually like this b/c it sounds like “old Chesney”. I really don’t like this new beach music/wannabe Buffett stuff. My all-time favorite Chesney song is Old Bird Dog. if you haven’t heard it, give it a shot.

  17. J
    February 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    This song is bumping and compelled me to look it up I like it.

  18. stacy
    February 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I love kenny no matter what he does!!!

  19. Filipino Kid
    March 5, 2010 at 8:17 am

    where can i hear samples of Chesney’s Capricorn stuff? didn’t knw there’s an album before BNA… but i like the first three BNA chesney

  20. You're a dumbass
    March 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Yeah shows what you know Juli, this song will be number 1 within 2 dumbass

  21. Michelle
    March 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Hmm, when I called someone a moron it was removed. I’ll make sure from now on I use dumbass instead!

  22. merlefan49
    March 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    It sure sounds like his voice has been altered.

  23. adam
    March 26, 2010 at 9:51 am

    He can play any song he wants and it will be good. It does not matter if he makes a bad song people will still listen and buy his music becasue he is Kenny Chesney and the name it self sells.

  24. shawn d
    April 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I like this, it sounds like Kenny circa 2003. I looked it up to fond out more about it. I guess Joe Walsh is in the video. I will go see the movie after hearing this. I had become burnt out on Chesney with all the beach crap.

  25. T
    May 20, 2010 at 12:36 am

    This song is awesome! You have no taste! Your right “your a dumbass” it is almost #1. I never give the critics much weight when it comes to what they think about music or movies because they are almost always wrong!

  26. Jon G.
    May 20, 2010 at 12:52 am

    T, what is good or not is completely subjective. I, personally, don’t think that professional critics are almost always wrong about film and music. Really, I don’t think that either how well something sells or how much certain critics like something should affect how “good” you think that something is. A lot of people seem to wimp out if they’re opinion goes against society’s. Whether the aspect of society is critical or popular is arbitrary. If you think that “Gigli” is a great film and “Fast Ryde” is the best duo around, it’s your right to think that. A lot of people would disagree, but if you don’t stand up for yourself and your opinions, who will?

    The reason, perhaps, that people go onto sites like this one is not to see if their opinion lines up with society, but rather just to get their own point of view out there and grow as a person by observing different perspectives, even if they don’t agree with them. Understanding and condoning are two different things.

    Personally, I think that this is an abysmally shitty song with a chorus that might have possibly had some potential if attached to versus that were actually not utter crap. That’s my opinion, and you’re probably not going to change it. That it’s a hit song certainly doesn’t.

    Anyway, God bless America, give me liberty or give me death, Budhha save the queen, et cetera.


  27. Jon G.
    May 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Oh, and P.S., Juli was 100% right. “this single’s weaknesses won’t slow its success on the charts”=not a dumbass.

    God bless the illiterate.

  28. Steve Harvey
    June 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    This is the most generic rock song I could possibly imagine. Yet, I still kinda like it – not sure why.

Tagged In This Article

// // // // //

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton