Kenny Chesney – “Out Last Night”
Songwriters: Kenny Chesney and Brett James.
I once had a journalism professor who said the hardest assignment for a writer was to take an ordinary person–the mechanics, the truck drivers and the waitresses of the world–and craft stories about them and their lives in an interesting, relevant way.
Country music is famous for songs about these everyday people, and with his latest offering, Kenny Chesney nails the mundane subject matter but misses the interesting interpretation.
“Out Last Night” is a universally relatable song that attempts to serve as a wink at last night’s crazy exploits. The story behind the song apparently stems from the morning after a raucous night out for Chesney and co-writer Brett James, after which Chesney said, “Well, I guess we went out last night.”
However, what that understatement conveys is lost when the words are set to music, and there’s nothing worse than being almost funny: “Out Last Night” doesn’t pull off the humor of George Jones and Merle Haggard’s similarly themed “C.C. Waterback,” or even Luke Bryan’s “All My Friends Say.”
As the first single off Chesney’s upcoming Greatest Hits Volume Two, it’s a breath of fresh air out of the Caribbean corner Chesney has painted himself into as of late, harkening back to the days when Chesney name-checked East Tennessee and sang over the sounds of a steel guitar. It serves as a bridge between the album’s beachy songs like “When the Sun Goes Down” and “Beer In Mexico” and his more (loosely) traditional offerings “Anything But Mine” and “The Good Stuff.”
But while it appeases Chesney’s two biggest loves—country music and tropical hideaways—by laying on a more country production but still mentioning girls from Argentina and Panama, the more traditional instrumentation doesn’t help the singer’s oddly mid-tempo delivery. Chesney’s vocals are strained in an attempt at relaxed reflection, which translates into blandly boring behind lyrics like “Yeah, we went out last night/One thing started leading to another/Out last night/Hittin’ on everybody and their mother.”
Although the song gets off to a plodding start, its fun phrasing and inflections have Chesney written all over them. “Out Last Night’s” chorus begs even a karaoke beginner to grab a mike (once the sorority girls are done with “I Got You Babe,” of course), stretching the word “out” long enough that even someone with more than a few beers could jump in on.
It’s a laid-back song for a laid-back guy who has found his niche in country music, and it’s already on its way up the charts. “Out Last Night” may be poised to be the 2009 version of the Kenny Chesney Super Summer Anthem fans have grown to expect and love, but unlike “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” this one is more like no harm, no foul.
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