Written by Adam Keyrouze. 4 November 2015.
What comes to mind when you here the word “Tennessee”? You might have thought of whiskey, or cowboys, or country music, or maybe something else. What comes to my mind when I hear about Tennessee is Kenny Chesney. Chesney has always been my favorite country music artist. The song “Never Wanted Nothing More” has been a guideline for me to live by since I first heard it when it came out in 2007. It was a huge hit and is still widely recognized as one of Chesney’s top songs. Chesney sings about multiple scenarios growing up and how first experiences can be nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time but in all these situations, they all share one common rule. This one common rule is to live a simple but exciting life. The song “Never Wanted Nothing More”, by Kenny Chesney is about living life in the moment yet still striving to move forward with your life.
The Knoxville sensation is a huge star in the country music industry with multiple number one hits coming before “Never Wanted Nothing More”. His name was mentioned in Billboards magazine along with huge hip-hop stars Kanye West and 50 Cent in 2007 when these two rap artists were huge hits and making a lot of money off of their music. They were the new in-style music and to be mentioned along with them was big especially for a country artist, which means he broke music barriers and wasn’t only talked about in the country genre but in the music category as a whole instead. He’s had so much success in his career and has totaled 16 albums since he broke into the industry in 1994.
“Never wanted Nothing More” was his fastest song to hit the top of the country singles chart and debut as the number one song in 2007, which only took seven weeks after the official release date. His top two albums in his career have been “No Shoes, No Shirt, No problem” and “When the Sun Goes Down”, both albums coming in the early 2000’s. Chesney has performed at least a dozen tours, performing along the way at stadiums across the country, bars, college venues, along with many other places and has done it all in his career.
With the vast difference in venues, he has targeted a huge range of audiences over his career due to so many different albums. The people who listen to “Never Wanted Nothin’ More” can relate to various experiences in the song. Chesney sings this song and while some might picture this as his life, the main character can be assumed to be fictional since the experiences don’t add up to Chesney’s timeline. This song is mostly experiences that people expect to have in their life and not actually an actual persons life experiences.
He starts off the song talking about teenage boys just wanting to have something that they can call theirs and be able to own such as a truck and how he was so proud and happy when he first purchased his own truck at the age of sixteen. While not all boys want trucks, a lot of boys in the south love trucks. One could only assume how many boys in the state of Tennessee, the state that is home to the city that is considered the capitol of country music, would love to own a truck. Being from Tennessee, Chesney is able to use ethos to show how much he wanted a truck personally and this personal experience uses ethos to build credibility.
The audience that is portrayed for the entirety of the song is the working middle class and in this first verse he portrays it when bringing up how much the truck exactly was. Given that Chesney brings up the cheap price but also the pride of owning it himself, the listener can conclude that he works hard and cherishes earning things. He brings up money multiple times in this song, which constantly ties back to the targeted audience. Like all other country music, Chesney sings about the rural lifestyle and the description of a rusty old pick-up truck was picture perfect for listeners in the audience who resided in the southern portion of the country.
The next verse deals with the same age group or a couple years older, but the audience this time is drawn back to their first date. Chesney sings about the main characters excitement to be able to take his new girlfriend out on a date even though it isn’t a typical fancy, expensive date. Chesney references the cheap bottle of wine, once again drawing on the idea that the main character is part of the middle class and doesn’t have the luxury of excess money. Once again it’s teenage boys around the age 16-18 the listener can assume for a generalization, since he is talking about boys taking a girl on a first date and hoping to “get lucky”, as some would call it, for the first time. Boys could relate to this since they were at that age but also men who were older could relate to it as they looked back on their first dates. He gives the sense of relatability to the younger audience of boys and reminiscence to the older men. The nostalgia used in this verse once again builds ethos.
In the third verse that Chesney wrote, once again it fast forwards a couple of years if not more to the next age group of young men who are more mature than those in the previous experiences. This experience envisions the guys who propose to their girlfriends and Chesney flashes back to the main character’s reaction and how his friends and family reacted to his decision. This is the last time Chesney references money and how it isn’t relevant to have a good life. When he brings up how the ring wasn’t very big, it reinforces the idea that I mentioned earlier that the main character is in the working class and appreciates everything he has and it isn’t all about money and luxury.
The male audience can relate to this since whenever guys get married young their friends are saying they are moving to fast and this is the best time of a guys life to be single and all the other stuff that goes with that conversation. Indirectly it also appeals to high school sweethearts since the listener can assume that Chesney married his high school sweet heart since in both verses, his girlfriend is named Katie. This is where the pathos is added into the song because it is where the girls listening say “Awwwwwwweeeeeee”. It tugs at their hearts because they listen to country music to look forward to that moment in their life where their boyfriends/husbands will propose since that is a girl’s biggest dream.
Then Chesney brings up the point of view of how mothers react when their little boys get married and start growing up and no guy likes seeing their mother cry so that adds an emotional perspective to the song as well. This part of the song is another prime example of how Chesney is singing about experiences that society expects to have happen in their lives. While not everyone experiences these, they are what happen in movies and what people picture happening in their own lives. Finally the third rhetorical device Chesney uses in this verse is logos when he says that the ring is small because that is all that he can afford. This makes sense since he was young in the song and whenever you get married young, you most likely don’t have a lot saved up for the ring or wedding.
Finally the last experience he performs about, targets the religious audience in his final verse. He speaks of the main character in the song, finally realizing how important faith is when he finally let God into his life. This alone makes him relatable to more listeners because a lot of people could remember that moment in their lives for them as well. This last verse is where Chesney uses ethos as a rhetorical strategy to gain more listeners attention and to gain more publicity for the song. Chesney doesn’t gain credibility for himself because he isn’t saying he’s a follower, but by referencing the church it draws another experience that the audience can relate to.
While the verses are more complex and a little harder to decipher who he is talking to and the point of the song, the chorus and outro are very simplistic and in my opinion state the theme of the song easily. In the chorus, the lines “I’m sure happy with what I’ve got” as well as “And that’s all I need”, give off the message that in order to be happy you don’t need much. Simplicity is the key to happiness and excitement will follow. The outro re-establishes this point in the ending lines saying “And I never wanted nothin’ more” therefore giving the listener the feeling that Chesney has lived a full life by just living in the moment and not worrying about what might come next but working towards his goals as well.
After listening to this song hundreds of times and analyzing who Kenny Chesney was talking to and the deeper meaning of the song, I love this song even more. The main point of this song being simplicity is the key to happy life is a great guideline to live by. Chesney masterfully uses ethos, pathos, and logos throughout the lyrics and tone of his voice, which makes the song even more powerful than people realize when just casually listening to it.
Song “type”: Verse-Chorus Form
|0:00||Intro||Guitar and drums||Chesney has a couple different instruments playing with most notably the guitar and drums setting up for the first verse.|
|0:14||Verse 1||“Couldn’t wait to turn 16….”||The last word on each line of this verse is either lifted or lowered in terms of the pitch. The words “around” and “floor” are raised in lines 1 and 3 while the words “about” and “more” are lowered and give a sense of ending to the line/verse.|
|0:35||Instrumental||Guitar||Similar to the intro but not as long and serves as a transition between verse 1 and verse 2.|
|0:41||Verse 2||“I took Katie down by the….”||The verse does the same thin with the last words on each line following the same structure of lines 1 &3 being lifted while lines 2 & 4 being lowered in pitch. Adds an extra line to the verse compared to verse 1 but ends with the same 5 words. As well as some harmony vocals being added to the line about the “first time.”|
|1:05||Chorus||“Well I’m what I am and I’m….”||The chorus is short but most of the words held out to create a new melody.|
|1:16||Instrumental||Guitar||This is a longer instrumental than the last one and similar in length to the intro. But it’s one continuous string of notes unlike the other instrumentals.|
|1:27||Verse 3||“My buddies all tried to….”||Chesney continues to lift notes at the end of lines to give it a sense of rhythm in this verse and the listener can pick up on Chesney also adding more energy to the song as it progresses such as in the line “mine all mine.”|
|1:51||Chorus||“Well I’m what I am and I’m….”||Exact same chorus as earlier but leads into instrumental this time instead.|
|2:02||Instrumental||Guitar||This time the instrumental starts off with a high note then goes into 2 medium-long length strains of notes to end the instrumental.|
|2:12||Verse 4||“One Sunday I listened to the….”||He mixes up the flow of the verses with the last line “Glory Hallelujah, good God almighty I never wanted nothin’ more” and combines that with the instruments getting scaled back to give a feeling that the song is coming to an end but then build towards the end of the verse into the chorus.|
|2:36||Chorus||“Well I’m what I am and I’m….”||Once again the chorus sounds exactly the same until Chesney holds out the last note.|
|2:48||Outro||Guitar||The outro is a lot longer and mostly an instrumental with the exception of two short lines Chesney sings that are directly related to the name of the song. These two lines give the listener one last chance to remember the name of the song and end with what sounds like a banjo which adds nostalgia to a song that already is full of it.|
Jeffery Remz. Kenny Chesney sets record with “Never Wanted Nothing More.” N.p. 23 July 2007. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
“Charting Chesney.” Billboard 15 Sept. 2007: 90. Print.
“Kenny Chesney.” Rolling Stone.n.page.(Web)27 October, 2015.
“Kenny Chesney Lyrics.” AZ lyrics. N.p. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.