Kenny Chesney – “Better As A Memory”

Brady Vercher | March 19th, 2008

Kenny ChesneySongwriters: Scooter Carusoe and Lady Goodman

“Better As A Memory” is the followup single to Kenny Chesney’s duet with George Strait, “Shiftwork,” and the fourth single overall from Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates and a couple of lines from the song provide inspiration for the title of the album.

The title actually provides a good premise for a song and Kenny’s vocal and the production sound good, so there’s a lot to like about the song, but, unfortunately, the lyric is a little too senseless. In a general gist, the song revolves around a breakup or a previous relationship, with Chesney asserting that he’s better as a memory, but who exactly is he trying to convince? Himself or the woman and that leads to wondering who decided to end the relationship?

And while the song is about the relationship, it’s also an introspective look at who the narrator is–complete with senseless rambling lists and silly similes. Each line seems to be a description of himself without any semblance of flow from line to line, so the song could have just as easily been called “Just Who I Am,” and it might have made a little more sense. I’m still scratching my head about how “My only friends are pirates” got slipped in there and what exactly it’s supposed to mean.

The song comes across as more of an overly philosophical analyzation of the narrator and the failed relationship from a detached perspective, but it becomes incoherent in the process. A line from Matt’s previous review of a Kenny Chesney song sums this one up perfectly: “The lyric is filled with so much non-sensical rambling that a humorist could reinterpret it as a cruel parody of dementia.”

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  1. Mike W.
    March 19, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I can see the complaints from the review, but this was actually one of the two songs I REALLY liked off of Chesney’s latest album. The other being “Demons”. I wish they had gone ahead and released “Demons” instead, granted it’s far too dark and gritty for Country radio these days, but Chesney has the star power to make it work.

    Anyway, I cant say I would give this song a thumbs down, I think it’s better than the review, but not by much.

  2. Brady Vercher
    March 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Mike W, maybe you can explain to me what’s going on in the song and why exactly he’s better as a memory? I admitted that there was a lot to like, but it just doesn’t make any sense.

  3. Brody Vercher
    March 19, 2008 at 8:17 am

    I wish they had gone ahead and released “Demons” instead, granted it’s far too dark and gritty for Country radio these days, but Chesney has the star power to make it work.

    Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss were pretty successful with “Whiskey Lullaby,” which is also a product of the Anderson/Randall duo, so I think he could have pulled it off, too.

  4. Chris N.
    March 19, 2008 at 8:26 am

    She’s better off without him because he has an obsessive tendency to constantly reel off random metaphors to describe himself.

  5. Matt C.
    March 19, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Yeah, this song kind of lost me with the line “my only friends are pirates, that’s just who I am.” I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean other than an albm title drop.

  6. Kelly
    March 19, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I doubt that Blackbeard ever felt the need to continually remind people of “just who he was”. Also, Pirates have bad teeth, and the ones in Pittsburgh have horrible batting averages…(thanks, I’ll be here all week)

  7. Chris N.
    March 19, 2008 at 9:07 am


  8. Dave S
    March 19, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Thanks to that review, which I read months and months ago, I really do think of dementia everytime I hear “Dont Blink.”

  9. Jobi
    March 19, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Well after Kenny’s starpower got that dreadful song “Shiftwork” to the top 5, then he should be able to get any song there. Sorry, but I just could not stand that song!

  10. Matt B.
    March 19, 2008 at 9:27 am

    I agree that “Demons” would be a good single from an artist of Kenny’s stature. That being said, This song, lyrical warts and all, is better than the last single and probably all of the singles released off of “Poets and Pirates.”

  11. CRAIG R.
    March 19, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Kenny, Kenny, Kenny….almost forty years old and you are still singing songs about being a boy. This song should be called ” I am Better as a Marketing Image”. First, why do male country singers get to stay boys for so long? Except for Alan Jackson, George Strait, Vince Gill, Gary Allen, and a few others, male country singers seem to think that pasting the emotional age of 21 is too big a leap to make all at once. This the fourth or fifth song I have heard in a couple of months where the real theme is ” I Loved Being A Teenage Boy or I Can’t Help Being a Teenage Boy”- Luke Bryan’s ” We Drove in Trucks”, Trace Adkins” Ladies Love Country Boys”, and of course Toby Keith anything. Even Brad Paisley’s new one. Come on guys grow up! If female singers sang about being teenage girls forever their careers would be just as short as their teenage years. As an adult I want adult music. If I wanted to be a teen all my life I would listen to pop.
    Second- this song reminds me of Garth Brooks'”More Than a Memory”- catchy, bland, and aimed at country listeners who still treat country music like background noise. ( By the way none of us on this blog are like that). Kenny Chensey’s voice has improved but his emotional, professional side, sort of like his real life emotional side, seems caught up in a fiction that goes nowhere, means nothing, proves nothing, and doesn’t shine a better light on country music. Kenny your wheels are spinning in the mud and it is starting to show!

  12. Rick
    March 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I’m glad that you staffers at The 9513 have the guts to call ‘em as you see ‘em and enough discernment to call them accurately as well. I tend to ignore most of the really big Top 20 artists on mainstream radio with Kenny Cheesehead being near the top of my blacklist (right behind Carrie Underwear and Taylor Twit). On the other hand I do have fun reading your withering reviews of the musical pap dispensed from such artists on a regular basis. I’d much rather read about Kenny’s music getting skewered for the shallow piffle it often is rather than listen to the dang stuff……..

    PS – If anyone is offended by my catty nicknames for major country “stars”, tough beans. They’ll be making millions regardless of what I think about their music…..

  13. tncheesehead
    March 19, 2008 at 3:58 pm


    Being a native wisconsinite I would beg you to not associate a nickname that i hold dear to my heart (cheesehead) with a country artist that i hold in such disdain, bad enough we lost the championship game, then Favre retires…NOW THIS?!?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


  14. mikeky
    March 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    ok, i’ve listened to this twice. i still have no opinion. the song doesn’t elicit one. it’s that…pointless. why bother?

  15. Mike W.
    March 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Craig, I think the main reason is because song writers and artists probably have their most “inspirational” years when they are younger/single. I imagine that once they settle down and get married, like a lot of people, their lives become more settled and “safe” if you will.

    My biggest problem with a lot of the songs that you mention and other “teen years” songs is the fact that the writing is often equally immature. I’m 21, but I want smart, mature songwriting. That’s why I listen mostly to the country scene out of Austin.

    I will say though, on that list, Luke Bryan’s song is probably the best. It’s not memorable, but some of the lines are REALLY good and show that Bryan can be a much better songwriter than his “good ole boy” persona that he has been marketed as with songs like “Country Man” and “Good Directions”.

  16. CRAIG R.
    March 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Mike W. I see what you mean and agree to a great degree- but when you settle down life can be very interesting as Willie, Wayon, Loretta,Tammy and George proved – But I am very glad there are young men like you who want more mature music. As for Luke Bryan I think he is doing that good ole boy act because he is becoming famous from it. The sad fact is that unlike a lot of true artist- Bryan wants the quick fame and I think he is selling his talent for cheap which won’t help him in the long run. The woods are full of boy singers with a few hits for their time and a short history- Rhett Akins, Rick Trevino, James Bonmay, David Kersh, Buddy Jewell. Some have a comeback but rarely as the artist they might really be.

  17. Guy
    March 19, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Bad song for a bad singer. Sounds like a good combo to me …

    When will people stop giving Kenny Chesney such respect and reverence when he is such an average-at-best talent?

    Attempts to explain his success have all so far come up short. If we’d just quit talking about him and quit buying his records, maybe he would finally leave us alone and go away.

  18. Guy
    March 19, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Kenny Chesney would surely be “Better As a Memory.”

    And by the way, “Shift Work” is so cheezy and gimmicky it almost sounds like a joke or a parody song.

  19. Zach Parolin
    March 19, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    It feels like he’s released twelve singles this year already. Maybe it’s because they all climb so fast, but I can’t imagine what his setlist is going to look like on tour. I’ll be seeing him at Country Fest in Wisconsin this summer (not going for him – going for the 30 other artists there), and I’m sort of curious as to which songs he’ll skip for time reasons.

    And, off topic, do we have any information the next single from Sugarland? Something on Enjoy the Ride or something new?

  20. Matt B.
    March 20, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Sugarland is working on Album #3. They have a new single from it coming out soon.

  21. Jim Malec
    March 20, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I have a feeling Sugarland’s next single is going to be “Life In a Northern Town”. It’s getting some spins, but I’m not sure if it officially signals the closure of “Enjoy The Ride”.

  22. Guy
    March 20, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Zach – it feels like it because it’s about true. He’s been pummeling the public with one forgettable single after another without letting us catch a breath for years now. And many times it’s hard to distinguish one from another.

    When he plays a gig, I’m pretty sure he can’t possibly play all the singles he’s released. You’d need a detailed spreadsheet which could crash a computer to list them all.

    But since so many of them sound the same, maybe it doesn’t matter which ones he plays.

  23. Chris N.
    March 20, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Oh, fine, I’ll do the math. Here’s the Kenny single count:

    2007: 4
    2006: 2
    2005: 3 (not counting his appearance on Jimmy Buffett’s all-star “Hey Good Lookin'” cover)
    2002: 2
    2001: 2
    2000: 2
    1999: 3
    1998: 3
    1997: 2
    1996: 3
    1995: 2
    1994: 2

    He’s had 31 top 10 hits — and that doesn’t count “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” which only got to No. 11.

  24. John
    March 20, 2008 at 9:53 am


    A disorder afflicting otherwise healthy people which perverts their
    judgement and taste until they like the music of Kenny Chesney;
    thereby believing he is actually talented and a “star”.

    Aggressive treatment for the disorder is indicated: including forcing
    the victims to listen to hours of recordings by quality male country
    singers; then having them compare those recordings to that of Kenny

    Some respond to treatment, but the current success rate of agressive
    treatment is only about 25 percent. Sadly, the disorder is too
    advanced in many patients; and they continue to live with the mild

  25. confused
    March 20, 2008 at 11:54 am

    i think its great when someone is successful. I wish him the best of luck.
    I’d sure like to hear something else on the radio too. but if kenny has the opportunity to be hugely successful he should.
    No one is successful forever. He should take advantage of it. It will fade. Every star fades.

    Go get ‘em Kenny. Keep on pushin’ hard.
    save your money…

  26. Eric
    March 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    wow…so many of you guys are overly negative, and jealous of Kenny. Is he the best singer…no, the best songwriter…no, the best guitarist…no, but the fact of the matter is he is one hell of an entertainer, and he sings good songs (for the most part) that really get people goin. Granted, “Shiftwork” was one of the worst songs in recent memory (right up there with “Firecracker” and “Just Got Started Lovin You”), but “Dont Blink” was a great song, and anyone who hates it is jealous and probably suffers from dementia. Plus, Brady, you just hate everything mainstream…you’re like a little emo kid, who only likes music he thinks no one else listens to or likes!!!

  27. Kenny Fan
    April 1, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I don’t see why you losers have to be so judgemental and negative toward Kenny and his music. He is the best musician out there and I think that “Better As A Memory” is a great song and makes a heck of a lot of sense. If you can’t figure that out then you’d have to be a moron. I don’t think that any of you idiots have room to talk about Kenny, because I’ve never heard of any of you guys writing any number ones… so before you go analyzing Kenny’s music and being so critical, you need to look around you instead of wasting all of your time disrespecting someone else. If all you have to do in your spare time is find ways to try and put down Kenny Chesney, then GET A LIFE because he is doing just fine without you. Ya’ll are probably just a bunch of jealous nerds who can’t get a woman.

  28. Leeann
    April 1, 2008 at 6:54 am

    I’m pretty sure I’m not “just a jealous nerd who can’t get a woman.” I simply don’t like Kenny Chesney’s music or attitude much. Then again, I know that I can get a little disgruntled when people attack my favorite artists too, though I can avoid the name calling pretty well.:) However, like you say, Kenny has many fans, so he doesn’t need those of us who aren’t his fans on his side. So, it works out for everybody. We don’t have to be Kenny Chesney fans and he doesn’t actually need us to be

  29. Kelly
    April 1, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Kenny Fan: You say he is the “best musician out there”???? He may sing well in your opinion, but Chesney acting like he plays the guitar when its draped around his neck as he is holding the microphone doesnt count as being a musician. Listen to the work of Union Station (Allison Krauss’ band), Brady Black (fiddle player for Randy Rogers), hell, even the guitar work of Paisley or friggin’ Urban and many others to know how to properly use the term “musician” when discussing Country music. Figure all that out while you are acting like you are a pirate and acting like you are listening to Country music and then come back on here and tell everyone what you learned when you have actually listened to real musicianship….

  30. greg
    April 13, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Everyone here who thinks this song is bad for some reason, what the hell are you thinking? What i there not to understand? Not to follow? Can any of you actually put an educated thought together whe it comes to a song? Just wondering.

  31. Wendy
    April 16, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Why do you guys criticize Kenny so much. It’s OK not to like someone or their music and you are all entitled to your own opinions, but some of you are just mean. Kelly, maybe you don’t think Kenny is the best musician out there but obviously Kenny Fan does. I myself am a huge Kenny fan and I love him but I don’t think he is the best musician out there and neither is anyone else. It is all a matter of opinion and how you view life.

  32. Heather
    April 21, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Ok all you stupid Kenny lovers… can one of you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE explain to me what the hell he means by “my only friends are pirates?” WHAT A FREAK!!! Kenny used to be good until he started writing every freaking song about the beach this the beach that so the only way I figure his friends are pirates are b/c “pirates of the carribean” and he is freakin obsessed with the carribean. Just someone please tell what the crap that pirate line means!!!!!

  33. Heather
    April 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Oh yeah plus he has ugly chicken legs.LOL!!!! I swear to you Kenny was a LOSER in high school and is now tryin to prove that he is cool all these years later… turns out he’s not cool, he’s just a pirate! HAAAAAAAAAAAA

  34. Holly
    April 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    “my only friends are pirates”…..the only thing i can come up with is what the saying goes along with…..what do pirates chase?….booty……and i can totally understand this song because i have dated a guy who because of his past was afraid to get serious and the more serious i got about him the more he told me i should run… basically he is telling the girl she is better off without him because he isn’t long term relationship material…..atleast that’s how i see it….and i also think that he is basically telling her he isn’t good for much other than a booty call, back to the pirate reference…….but i do love this song because i can relate

  35. Funk
    April 22, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Heather, pirates will turn on anyone. They don’t have a lot of old friends. Maybe a lot of drinking buddies but even the drinking buddies know to hold on to their wallets. He’s saying he isn’t a good friend to count on.

    The real attraction of Kenny Chesney is his arms. Those guns are dreamy.

  36. Mike Parker
    April 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    If he didn’t sing the pirate line with such ferocious honesty, it wouldn’t be so funny. I love how all those that defend this song find a serious and profound message buried within the meanderings. I know when something’s over my head and when something’s on the bottom of my boot. This… is on the bottom of my boot.

  37. Funk
    April 22, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I wasn’t defending it. I think it’s silly and if I have to spell it out, I don’t think his guns are dreamy either.

  38. Brady Vercher
    April 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Here’s what Chesney had to say about the song, “Someone had left it for me on my bed,” Chesney says with a laugh. “And a note that said it was something to listen to and wind down after the momentum of kicking off the Flip Flop Summer Tour was gone and the adrenalin wasn’t… it wasn’t supposed to be ‘a pitch,” the note said it was a lullalbye. As the person was someone whose taste I respect, I did […] I called the person who’d left it and said, ‘That’s not just a good song, that’s a great song. I’m cutting it Tuesday.

    He also called it “the most honest song I’ve ever cut.

  39. Mike Parker
    April 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Not a pitch… uh huh… I’m just gonna leave this here on your bed. It’s a lullaby. A song in your style, with a line about pirates. I know you love PIRATES Kenny. Yeah. It’s not a pitch. Just play it Kenny. Put on your eye patch Kenny. Cover the parrot. Sleep sweet Kenny, sleep.

    Okay… now that that’s out of my system. I have to come clean. I really used to like Kenny Chesney. Back when he was an opening act, a warm up for a Tim McGraw or a George Strait. He had five or six fun, loud songs and a few touching ballads. I thought “Tin Man” was really good. “Me and You” was one of the first songs I learned on guitar. “That’s Why I’m Here” was fantastic.

    Then something happened. His songs all started sounding exactly alike. Those five or six songs started multiplying like inbred rabbits, each iteration being less and less original and more and more skewed. He sometimes threw a new style into the mix… and then… steel drums… the end.

  40. Eric
    April 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I agree with Mike about the songwriter pitching the song. Sonwriters dont just give songs to people for lullabyes!!! and i would be highly disappointed if kenny actually believed the guy.

    I also wanted to adress the “pirate” line. while I agree, it was senseless to out that line in the song, I think he ment that he friends are constantly moving on to the next place or the next journey in life, just like pirates never stay in one place.

    PS- If you dont like this song, fine, but this is not a bash-kenny website. And if you dont like mainstream country radio, dont listen and dont review the songs, and leave the reviews to us folks who do like mainstream country.

  41. Lucas
    April 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I understand the concept of “Hey, I’m your friend or Hey I respect you and I’d love you to listen to this. I don’t have any hope of you cutting it, I’m just proud of it.” But as far as it being a lullaby… what kind of guy plays another guy a lullaby?

    If you know my theory… it’s that most singers have such a heavy influence that many of the neotraditionalists are just spin-offs, which to me is great. What a solid foundation. Kenny has a LOT of George in him. I just wish he’d stop trying to include something about the beach in every darn song. Love Kenny’s music, but come on Kenny. Did shiftwork have to include hanging out on the beach? The people that were talked about in that song don’t relate. I’m not Jack Sparrow, so I can’t relate to being a pirate either. I realize he wants to have Parrothead style fans, but that doesn’t mean all his songs have to take on the tropics. Some of his best songs don’t include anything about the beach, if he keeps down the beach path so often people are going to get tired of it. Kenny, Kenny Kenny, you can… no… you DESERVE to cut songs better than this!

    PS Kenny, if all your friends are pirates, I’m more than willing to become one to get a spot on your tour! ;)

  42. roger
    April 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    kenny chesney is trying to become the next jimmy buffett but thankfully parrotheads are smart enough to recognize an east tennessee redneck when they hear one…how how how did this guy get to the level he is at???????

  43. Lucas
    April 26, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I can see how he got to the level he’s at. Fun show, good music. What I don’t understand (maybe it’s because I’m a guy) is how he could get some popularity from his looks. There are some artists that pull a good chucnk of their popularity rom their looks, we all know that. But I guess I’ve never heard any girl say “I wish you were a little shorter and bald.”

    I still like that “not a pitch” story though, that kills me.

  44. Creek
    May 2, 2008 at 5:59 am

    My only friends are Pirates refers to him being on the road all the time, and not staying in one place, and that can be said for plenty of his friends in the buisness. If there is any songwriters on here you would know the song is actually brilianlty written. But the Overall beach sceen for his albums is getting old

  45. David
    May 3, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    For all those that are putting Kenny (or any other artist) down, I dont see your name on the ticket stubs or selling any albums. To sit and “review” this song and the word pirates is a bit much. The song is stupid because you dont know the meaning of the word pirates? Who the hell doesnt know what a pirate is? Chicken legs? If you have seen him in concert you would know why. Kenny doesnt sit in front of a computer and “review” songs. He works his ass off on stage and puts on a hell of a show (with a broken foot also) because he knows that hard working, honest, everyday people are there for him and he isnt going to let them down unlike most other stars that lip sync, pass out on stage, get knocked up for the hell of it, or are just phsyco. He must be doing something right because he still sells out shows, sells millions of albums, lives in the islands, and still knows how to party. Complain about 40 year old country singers not wanting to give up their youth? Anyone heard of Bret Micheals, Gene Simmons, Hulk Hogan? How many other East/West coast stars all of the sudden have “reality shows”. Talk about not wanting to give it up. Probly the same goes for the “reviewers” on this site. Fact is, Kenny is doing it and your not and that just plain pisses you off.

  46. hairandtoenails
    May 4, 2008 at 12:52 am

    David writes, “For all those that are putting Kenny (or any other artist) down, I don’t see your name on the ticket stubs or selling any albums. To sit and “review” this song and the word pirates is a bit much.”

    This is a great point, and I would extend it to other areas of life. For instance, since Consumer Reports magazine does not make or sell cars, I think its stupid to pay attention to them if they claim a particular car is unsafe. Because as David writes, “Fact is, Kenny is doing it and your not and that just plain pisses you off,” the same applies to Consumer Reports. Their editors are not making cars, they don’t know how to make cars, they sure could never sell as many cars as GM, and it “just plain pisses them off” so they take it out on car makers. Next time I hear from some bitter car reviewer that a car tends to roll over, i’ll just ignore it safe in the knowledge that the reviewer is just a jealous crank.

  47. Leeann
    May 4, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Ha, Hairandtonails!

  48. Brody Vercher
    May 4, 2008 at 8:17 am

    David: He works his ass off on stage and puts on a hell of a show (with a broken foot also)…

    His foot is actually more bruised than broken.

  49. Chris N.
    May 4, 2008 at 9:27 am

    @Hairandtoenails: Hilarious. And I’m qualified to judge whether a comment is enjoyable, because I’m also a commenter. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to tell if that was funny or not.

  50. Kelly
    May 4, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Chris and fellow commenting commenters: I am glad that we are all qulaified to comment by commenting. If we just sat at our computers and didnt comment, well, we wouldnt be qulaified to comment…..I think….I know that we all provide one hell of a good read with our comments, in fact, I currently have a “female dog” of a hang-nail right now, but I want to give the non-commenting readers all they can handle, so I suck it up and type away, cuz I’m bad-a** like that….

  51. Maria
    May 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I just have to say that if you knew anything about writing and poetry then you would understand the song. I was very impressed.

  52. Brady Vercher
    May 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I like the way that argument works. Let me try one: I just have to say that if you knew how to comprehend language or required songs to make sense, then you wouldn’t understand or like this song. I was very unimpressed.

  53. Maria
    May 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    It doesn’t make sense according to you.. I guess it depends on what you can comprehend. Language is a wonderful thing. It lets people have an imagination.

    We all have our own opinions, and likes, and dislikes. Wonderful world we live in…

  54. Brady Vercher
    May 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I was merely pointing out your lack of a substantial argument while attempting to support the song by being dismissive of differing opinions. Tell us why the song is good from a writing, poetry, and musical (country music in particular) perspective instead of arrogantly dismissing those who disagree as ignorant.

  55. Maria
    May 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I was not dismissing your point of view, I was just saying that if you knew anything about the subject then you would understand. Sorry that you misunderstood that. I don’t feel like I have to explain what the song means to me because it is different for everyone. Poetry is about expressing yourself with words that sometimes do not have to make sense, but the meaning is still there.
    That is why I pointed out that we all have our own opinions!!!

  56. Mike Parker
    May 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm


    Poetry is about expressing yourself, but it still needs to be coherent. I agree that the language in this song sounds very poetic, but sounding poetic and being poetic are too very different things. This is not a deep song.

    I enjoy that the lyric uses some original turns of phrase, and it’s not a bad melody, but it’s not a great song, or really even a good one. It’s a forced hook wrapped in nonsense. Interesting nonsense, but still nonsense. Just another opinion.

    I find it a bit offensive that you’d classify everyone who does not share your reverence for the song as people who don’t “know anything about writing and poetry.” I’m guessing a lot of folks here know quite a bit about writing and poetry.

  57. Maria
    May 7, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    You are right. I was being ignorant to assume that people here know nothing about writing and poetry. I am sorry about that comment.
    However, I do not believe that you understand what I am saying. Poetry is about expressing your feelings in any way you feel. This may not be a deep song to you, or Kenny Chesney for that matter. It is to some people, even the person that wrote the song, or so I hope. The words in this song mean a great deal. I guess you would just have to understand someone else’s perspective on the song.

  58. Brady Vercher
    May 7, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Maria, country music, and I suppose all songs, can be considered poetry, but not all poetry can be considered country music. So, even though something may make good poetry, that doesn’t make it a good country music lyric; just try turning a haiku into a country song. This is a country music website and that’s the perspective that we review a song from, so while someone may be able to glean meaning from it in a poetic sense, it just doesn’t make a good country song. If you think otherwise, feel free to present an argument supporting your opinion.

  59. Maria
    May 8, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    This song to me is about a Girl that is falling in love with a man, and he is telling her all of his faults. I know for some that may be hard to understand with it being uncomprehendable and all. He is telling her, he is not good at commitment, and that he is not good in one place.
    You are right not all poetry can be considered a song. But the fact is Kenny Chesney is making millions on this song. So classify it poetry, crap, lyrics, or a song. I don’t believe that it matters. It is a very good song when you allow yourself the chance to read between the lines.
    No that is not saying that you don’t or do, Just my opinion of course.

  60. Matt
    May 9, 2008 at 2:22 am

    The song isn’t suppose to make perfect sense to everyone. Its obviously about personal experiences, and its ment to leave you wondering, what did he mean by that, but still in the back of your mind feel the lyircs and apply them to your own life and experiences. When he sings “my only friends are pirates”, I am guessing he is singing about his friends who are men of the sea, and the women he is singing about probably had a problem with them, or him being a beach bum? Just my guess. If every song made perfect sense, it would be a book not a song.

  61. Matthew Fish
    May 9, 2008 at 2:51 am

    I just listened to this song four times in a row, and it finally makes sense to me. Its not a song about random nonsense, but yet a song about a man telling a women she shouldn’t fall for him, because he’s not the type to settle down. Just listen to the first verse of the song. “I move on like a sinners prayer
    and letting go like a levee breaks
    Walk away as if I don’t care
    Learn to shoulder my mistakeOr built to fade like your favorite song, Get reckless when there’s no need” It’s the man in the song telling the women who is falling for him not to. He is a drifter, he’s had lots of women fall for him, but he won’t settle down. And basically telling her someday she’ll find that out, even if its hard to believe right now. When he says “break my heart but it won’t bleed” he is talking about the wall he’s put up towards women, he’s been in so many relationships he’ll get over it. Some guys are just never going to settle down, no matter what women comes into their lives. And for the “My only friends are pirates” part, I think the guy obviously is an ocean junky, and probably hangs out with is friends, the so called “pirates”, who have the same mentality about settling down as he does. I mean how many female pirates do you know? Honestly? Does that clear up the lyrics for anyone? Or at least give you another perspective of the song? I think after listening to this song a few times it is pretty easy to see what the song writer was trying to say with these lyrics.

  62. Brady Vercher
    May 9, 2008 at 7:53 am

    I think we all understand the general gist of the song, but certain lines don’t lend anything to the story. Let me expand on the review a little.

    I move on like a sinner’s prayer
    Lettin’ go like a levee breaks
    Walk away as if I don’t care
    Learn to shoulder my mistakes
    I’m built to fade like your favorite song
    Get reckless when there’s no need

    So the first three lines establish that he’s moving on from something. The third line calls into question who exactly he’s trying to convince that he doesn’t care, himself or the woman. Why isn’t the line “Walk away because I don’t care?” As it’s worded now, it’s either just trying to smooth over his being an asshole, or he might really care, but if he really cared, why would he leave?

    A few things could be going on with the fourth line. If it’s the beginning of a relationship, then it wouldn’t necessarily be a mistake to leave it, so we’re either into a semi-serious relationship or he considers it to be a mistake to have gotten involved in the first place. The again, he could be just describing himself without the line contributing to the “Just Who I Am” story rather than the “Better As A Memory” story.

    The fifth line is a lame excuse so that he doesn’t have to own up to his actions and contradicts the previous line about shouldering his mistakes. The sixth line goes back to the “Who I Am” story and makes no sense in the “Memory” story.

    Laugh as your stories ramble on
    Break my heart, but it won’t bleed
    My only friends are pirates
    That’s just who I am
    But I’m better as a memory than as your man

    The first line here indicates that the relationship isn’t completely new and the second line raises all sorts of questions and was probably just included because it sounds cool. The pirate line is out of left field, but we’ll consider it part of the “Who I Am” storyline. In the next two lines he reveals the two separate stories being told. We can make a conclusion that the relationship is more complicated than just having a chat or two over coffee and him telling her that he doesn’t do relationships, otherwise, she wouldn’t have any reason to keep him as a memory. And this is all just the first verse.

    So basically, the guy is breaking up with a girl and giving her the old “It’s not you, it’s me,” but if you dig a little deeper and consider that he’s “honest to a fault,” he knew he was going to leave her all along and just used her as a temporary fling. When things start getting more serious, he craps his pants and gives her the runaround in order to feel better about being an asshole.

    Sure there’s a general idea that’s trying to be conveyed here, which I mentioned in the review, but the whole thing just doesn’t fit together. It’s not about reading between the lines, it’s about dropping a few lines and twisting interpretations to make it mean what you think it means. Kenny sounds great, but it doesn’t make a good song.

  63. Stephanie
    May 16, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I LOVE the song, if you’ve ever been in love with a dreamer you would really understand this song, and probaly wish he would have said the things this song says instead of dragging you through years of hell. I understand the point he is trying to get accross in this song…and It’s probaly well understood by all of us girls who loved and lost a “pirate” in our lives

  64. Funk
    May 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    just try turning a haiku into a country song.

    Heck, I thought that is what the song “Shiftwork” is. The first time he sings the chorus, he gives the words shift work five syllables. The next time it’s seven and the third is five again. I thought that was his plan. He doesn’t do that with his pirate songs because pirates and eye patch come to a total of four syllables. Including parrot puts him over the limit.

  65. Funk
    May 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I LOVE the song, if you’ve ever been in love with a dreamer you would really understand this song, and probaly wish he would have said the things this song says instead of dragging you through years of hell.

    Go ahead Stephanie, let it all out darlin’. You’ll feel better.

    Damn, this thread is turning out to be a Saturday Night Live sketch.

  66. Chris N.
    May 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I can’t turn a haiku into a country song, but I think I can turn country songs into haiku.

    “The only reason
    He stopped loving her today
    Is that he is dead”

  67. Brady Vercher
    May 16, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    That’s awesome Chris! You should publish that.

  68. Leeann
    May 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Ha, Chris!

  69. Hollerin' Ben
    May 16, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    wow. I loved that.

  70. Poet
    May 20, 2008 at 7:01 am

    So I stumbled stumbled across this review. Song critics really make me laugh out loud. I’m unsure if you have ever written a song or ever had one recorded but I have never purchased or changed my mind about purchasing a record based on a desk’s jockeys rewiew. This song makes perfect sence to me.

  71. Brandy
    May 21, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Better as a Memory is amazing! I had one of those relationships that didn’t make sense to anyone. We loved each other, and still do, but just did’t work. When I first heard this song, I thought my ex must have written it! If you have never been in one of those relationships, then you wouldn’t understand the song. I am still confused about why my relationship can’t work, after hearing this song, I realize that I am not crazy and that someone else out there feels my pain, whether its Kenny, the songwriter, or whoever inspired the song, someone understands why I still cry everyday.

  72. Mike Parker
    May 21, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I think a lot of women really like this song because it evokes the Fabio factor. It’s the swashbuckling loner from the harlequin romance who breezes into town and steals the cattle rancher’s only daughter.

    I get the romantic pull of this song, but it’s not realistic. I know a lot of guys, but I’ve never met anybody like the character in this song. I know women who think they know this guy, but it’s more of a coping mechanism than a reality. If a man’s getting everything he needs from a woman, but can’t be faithful- he’s a jerk- NOT A HERO. Or am I missing something (which is likely).

  73. carrie
    May 22, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Ok, why don’t people get this song? He is obviously saying that he is better as a memory because he doesn’t have time with his career to settle down and love someone as much as they would like for him to, so he is better off as a great memory than a heartbreak.

  74. Mike Parker
    May 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm


    But isn’t that still, in essence, a horrible thing to say to someone? Isn’t any man that would choose career over true love is a moron? I think people get the song, but question the sincerity of it. It’s like a long way of saying, wink…wink… “it’s not you, it’s me.”

  75. Stormy
    May 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    That’s basically what it is, an excuse not to have to commit anything to a woman.

  76. Jacqueline
    May 27, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Ok let me 1st say that I am a huge Chesney fan! This is my favorite song he sings. It makes better sense if you know the singer. Chesney is a single hard working guy that sacrifices a lot for his career even relationships. Its a very wordy song – but simply brillantly written and sang! Two thumbs up here! Its just basically compares how like things in nature and in life he too stops before things get too far. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone and they may not understand it then, but one day when they do find that special someone than they will realize that he was better as a memory than as thier man. Its an internal struggle for him too in wanting to pursue a realtionship but then again not being ready. Don’t you know that the pirate line is all about Kenny. Poets and pirates tour – he’s a boater. If your a real informed fan than you know.

  77. Jacqueline
    May 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    By the way, he did not write the song, but the person who did wrote it for him and about him.

  78. Steve
    June 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

    This song makes plenty of sense if anyone has ever taken a compostion class in high school or college. “My only friends our pirates” thats simple to understand hes saying hes a drifter hes never around for her. Pirates were drifters at one time and never stayed in one place very long. As in the song he also talks about blowing through like a storm “I never stay but then again I might” once again explaing that he is never around more of a gypsy always on the go. She’s better with out him “Better as a memory than as your man.” Scooter is a very well respected song writer who clearly got the message across to people that had some knowlege of poetry. Pick up some Walt Whitman or other american poets and maybe you will understand the concept and language used in this song.

  79. Brady Vercher
    June 3, 2008 at 9:26 am

    This whole pirate as a drifter interpretation is stupid. A pirate steals, plunders, or robs, whatever you want to call it, a pirate isn’t just a drifter.

  80. Steve
    June 3, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I think a lot of people on here that just dont understand or have ever even read poetry before. If the song bothers someone that much just dont listen to the song! I mean come on people you dont have nothing better to do.

  81. Mike Parker
    June 3, 2008 at 9:31 am


    I think most of us pretty much get what the song is trying to get across. My biggest problem with it isn’t the language (thought this is NOT Walt Whitman). My problem is that the singer is romanticizing a character flaw and trying to justify being a jerk. At a language level, it’s pretty, but mostly meaningless.

    “cause good-bye’s are like a roulette wheel
    you never know where they’re gonna land
    first you’re spinning, then you’re standing still
    left holding a losin’ hand”

    This all makes okay sense from an aerial view, but get a little closer and it makes absolutely no sense. If I’m being picky- goodbyes would be like a roulette ball- and then why would the person be spinning- and why are they holding a “losing hand?” What kind of crazy roulette game has cards?

    If the similes made sense, this would be a much better song- but it’s all just a bunch of lazy comparisons that are hit and miss.

  82. Kelly
    June 3, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Steve, since you are wondering if anyone has anything better to do, why are you bothering to comment? If you do not like breaking a song down and looking at its flaws or possibly the strengths and then discussing them, why bother coming on here at all? You are more than welcome to go over to Kenny’s Fan Forum and gush over how awesome it is to be a pirate and live on the beach and how he is “real country for real people” or whatever it is that you fanboys like to say to eachother on those insipid message boards…

  83. hairandtoenails
    June 3, 2008 at 9:58 am

    In any case, whether people have “better things to do” or not hardly changes the validity of their points.

  84. Mike Parker
    June 3, 2008 at 10:09 am

    And further… to beat a dead horse… if this song is poetry, then it can only be fully appreciated when deconstructed and analyzed.

  85. Stormy
    June 3, 2008 at 10:21 am

    And you do have to wonder about the strength of a song that cannot endure honest analysis.

  86. jereicka
    June 12, 2008 at 6:44 am

    i love your song it is the BEST !

  87. Natalie
    July 26, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I loved this song right away, from the first time through. It is very poetic about, in this case, a man who would rather walk away than hurt someone he knows he can’t love right, or be hurt by someone himself. Walking away right now is much easier than letting it get ugly in the end. Having been on both sides of that fence I completely understand it. He sees her falling, knows she will, so he’ll leave before the pain is too much. This isn’t a failed relationship this is about one that was never given the opportunity to start.

    The roulette comment…very appropriate. The relationship is the ball on the wheel, you don’t know where it will stop only that it will, it will end (part of the cynicism of the man). The thrill is in the spinning (falling), will I win or lose? If you ever watched players at a roulette table the reactions are the same once the ball drops. They’re still going to bet again whether they won or lost. In this case he knows he will lose so he’s not betting much.

  88. tom
    October 13, 2008 at 1:02 am

    I am coming into this fray way too late. But “Better as a memory” does make sense, though the line “my only friends are pirates, it’s just who I am” was most certainly a plug for the album title drop. It’s basically stating why people walk away from something before it starts. They just don’t think they will be good for that person…thus better as a memory.

    Kenny is a hard-working guy who has paid his dues by scratching out a living for years before he got mainstream. He didn’t become some overnight “pretty boy” success story like Nashville can produce when they want to. I saw him at my State Fair in 1999 OPENING for Tracey Lawrence and he smoked Tracy’s show. In 2 days, his new album “Lucky Old Sun” comes out. I think what KC needs to watchout for now is over-exposure and burnout. Has he talked to Garth Brooks?

  89. JIMMY
    November 30, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    MY ONLY FRIENDS ARE PIRATES line I think reflects how he is on the road, one city to the next, not knowing where or when he will end up there.

  90. Stormy
    November 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Where would he run into Pirates on the road? Aren’t they usually on the sea? Often around Somalia?

  91. Occasional Hope
    November 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Perhaps he was confusng them with highwaymen? Either way, as far as I can tell, Kenny’s version of pirates is usually the fantasy fun/cliche sort, not the bloody reality. (A song about what the Caribbean pirates were really like might actually be worth hearing, but I don’t expect to hear it from Kenny). Looking at the lyrics closely, I’m not inclined to think any of it is meant to mean anything much, except perhaps the writers thought a pirate reference would make Kenny record their song. If it was a better song, I might suggest the reference might be an allusion to the protagonist’s only friend being alcohol (Captain Morgan being the prirate, of course), but I think this song inclines to the pretentiously arty rather than anything actually approaching real art.

  92. Stormy
    November 30, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    If he keeps singing like that there is no way the real pirates will cut him in on a share of their sweet oil hijacking revenues.

  93. june owens
    December 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm


  94. dean moriarty
    February 6, 2010 at 1:49 am

    This song reads across as plain as daybreak to me, I’m bewildered that so many people seem to have so much trouble figuring the meaning that they feel they have to dismiss it.

    The narrator of the song- the character trying to explain himself- is one of those rogues with a heart of gold. An outlaw with some honor.

    People like that do exist. They used to be more common. I think they’ve often been driven to desperation and decline, by the self-righteous who demand that every rule be followed, that there be no coloring outside of the lines. And, truth to tell, they often have a way of working against themselves in ways that aren’t healthy.

    But despite it all, a few such men still survive.

    Our hero is one of them.

    And he’s singing the song to a lady who “fancies him”, as the British might say. Young and innocent, but sexy and adventurous- a good girl with bad thoughts.

    Trouble is, our hero has a conscience. Maybe once upon a time he would have thought nothing of “loving” the girl- for a night, or maybe a week- and leaving her…but he’s gotten to be bothered by, well, that whole scenario. He could have this girl for a night, no doubt (she’s undoubtedly a girl, not a woman- she’s vulnerable, attracted to rogues and danger, it’s almost too easy)- but at the end of it, he’d be down the road, and she’d be on her way to being the Queen Of The Silver Dollar. Or worse. It’s gotten to be a cold age.

    So instead of seducing her, he’s explaining himself to her. Why he never settled down. Why he isn’t going to. Why even the girl he’s singing to can’t persuade him to, as young and pretty and sexy as she is.

    Because most often it’s the woman’s way to want a relationship, not just a whambam roll in the hay- to think that she can be the special one for a man.

    And when that doesn’t happen…it can be a crusher. It can turn a woman cynical, bitter and mean. It can lead her to feel degraded.

    And he wants to spare her all of that pain.

    So he’s telling her about this certain type of guy, this mixed bag of a person- who, sensitive and caring and kind as he’s capable of being, is nonetheless a roustabout. A troubadour, living on the road. A coyote, who’s better off with coyote women- not nice sweet girls who deserve a man to care about them for the duration, to be faithful, to be around to provide, and help raise the children.

    And so he’s made the decision to put his damned intolerably irresistible charm in check, and turn her down. Before things get out of hand.

    Madonna/Whore Complexes are not just for Italian Catholics. And our hero has a king-hell case of that complex.

    And that may just be his saving grace…

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