“American Kids”

Written by Courtney Gonzalez. 15 April 2015

“American Kids” is one of three singles on Kenny Chesney’s new album The Big Revival. Ranking higher on the charts than his other singles, “American Kids” was very successful in conveying his overall message that while life is all consuming, as a collective people we should take time to celebrate it with no worries, no matter the situation.

“American Kids” emphasizes the many small things in life that are overlooked but should be appreciated. “It’s every single detail of being young, growing up, remembering when, laughing about how, but especially knowing you can still do all those things!” exclaims Chesney in an interview with People. School busses, letterman jackets and making out on your living room couch are just a few of lives moments he shares. By incorporating all of these little details that many people have experienced, Chesney allows a wide range of people to listen and connect with his song. Singing about a school bus in the first verse, Chesney brings the audience back to the time where life was just beginning and there were no worries. Conveying the message that you should be able to take a step back and be able to enjoy life at any age. Besides the lyrics in the first verse the sound is very upbeat with high banjo notes, drums and tambourines. The first verse leads into the chorus almost immediately, conveying how fast paced life is.

In all three choruses, the last part “Growin’ up in…” is sung in a louder, yell tone. The group of people brings about the idea that life should to be lived as part of a community. It can be assumed that all of these people did not live identical lives; therefore singing about the same experience shows their connections to one another in a shared situation. In the chorus he shows that the “energy in ‘American Kids’… it’s not the same old, it’s not what you expect.” Adding to the sound of the song, the instrumental breaks give the audience the chance to step back from the song and reflect on what was said. The first instrumental break was very short with the banjo as the only instrument heard, which could signify that there are short breaks in a fast paced life that should be enjoyed not overlooked.

Looking back to a time of lettermen’s and football practice, Chesney reminds the audience of a time where over protective dads and annoying little brothers were the worries of the world. By singing “sister’s got a boyfriend daddy doesn’t like” in a mocking tone, Chesney depicts the image of a younger sibling sticking out their tongue making fun of their older sister who’s in trouble. This imagery helps express the idea that no matter how bad you thought the situation was at the time, you may look back and see it wasn’t. You might even look back at the situation you worried so much about and laugh at it. While all situations may not be as juvenile as a disliked boyfriend, you have the power to look back on the situation, learn from it and start anew.

The second chorus is nearly identical to the first chorus, which could convey the message that you may have to face the same situations in life, but how you handle them can be different. You can revive yourself simply by having a different outlook on life. Moving from the chorus to the second instrumental break, Chesney grabs hold of the audience’s attention by adding, “HEY’s” in the background. It cues the audience to pay attention to the message one last time before the song comes to an end. In the last repetition of the chorus “HEY’s” are again added to the background of the last lines that are sung as a group. It is significant because it puts that extra bit of enthusiasm into the song so it ends in an upbeat note. The Outro, which is not included on radio versions of this song, does add to the overall meaning of the song. While it is the chorus repeated with no music, the very last part is the most important. An elongated “YAY” along with whistles and claps from the group is heard. It truly is a celebration of the song and indirectly of life.

By reminding his listeners to take a step back and rediscover their place in the world. He does this by the songs structure and sound, Chesney’s achieved his purpose of reviving the audience. “The moments in this song are all very real, and while they’re universal, they’re anything but generic, so I think people grabbed a hold of it for that — and because of the way it moves,” says Chesney. He moves his audience both physically and mentally through this song. Almost everyone can follow “American Kids,” see how some of the experiences sung about have affected their lives and use this reflection to build up their life to their desired goal.

Song Breakdown

Time Form Listening Cues Discussion
0:00 Intro Drum: drum, tambourine, banjo and guitar. Starts with a drum and tambourine beat. The guitar comes in soft with the strong banjo sound following. The Banjo is significant as it cues that Chesney is about to start singing.
0:18 Verse “Doublewide Quick Stop…” The lines that end with “town” and “down” both have the banjo played after in a high tune. It then moves quickly into the Chorus.
0:40 Chorus “We were Jesus Save me…” This is the firs time the audience is able to hear the group of people sing the last part of the chorus, “Growin’ up in…” in a louder, yell tone.
1:14 Instrumental Banjo: Banjo and tambourine The shortest of the instrumental breaks with the banjo as the most prominent sound.
1:20 Verse Baptist church parkin’ lot…” The lines that end with “jacket” and “practice” have the banjo played after in a low tune. The Line that starts with “Sister’s got…” is sung in a mocking tone that sounds as if a younger sibling is singing it.
1:42 Chorus “We were Jesus Save me…” This chorus is identical to the first one.
2:16 Instrumental Guitar: guitar and drum Longest of the instrumental breaks. This break also has the banjo as the most prominent sound, but has “HEY’s” yelled twice.
2:27 Chorus “We were Jesus Save me…” This chorus follows the same structure of the previous two, but deviates at the end. While the last part of the chorus, “Growin’ up in…” is still sung by a group of people in a louder yell tone, it has extra “Hey’s” in the background.
3.02 Outro “We were Jesus Save me…” The chorus is repeated in the outro but it has no music. It is the raw voices of the group of people that helped make the important. The part to note is the very end when there is a longer “YAY” and whistles.

Works Cited

Kauss, Katie. “LISTEN: Kenny Chesney Releases New Single, ‘American Kids'” PEOPLE.com. N.p., 20 June 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Lipshutz, Jason. “Kenny Chesney Unveils ‘The Big Revival’ Album Cover: Exclusive.” Billboard. N.p., 14 July 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Vinson, Christina. “Kenny Chesney, ‘American Kids’ – Lyrics Uncovered.” Taste of Country. N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.