Kenny Chesney – “The Boys of Fall”

C.M. Wilcox | July 30th, 2010

Kenny ChesneyPenned by Casey Beathard and Dave Turnbull, “The Boys of Fall” is an introspective, wistful whiff of Friday Night Lights nostalgia, a player’s-eye-view of high school football and the small-town society that rallies around it, watching their dreams and aspirations play out on the field. It’s a sad song that captures, in impressionistic detail and musical mood, the feeling of stepping out on that field. And the feeling of remembering stepping out on that field, of realizing that your proudest moments were very possibly left in the end zone.

Or something like that. The truth is that, as somber and evocative as “The Boys of Fall” is, and as much as it’s nice to hear Chesney maturing his post-glory-days jock image a bit, you’ll have to listen pretty closely for the nuances that make this a cut above your average Chesney nostalgia song. And the collective weight of past Chesney hits along these same lines–”I Go Back,” “Young,” “Keg In the Closet,” “Never Wanted Nothing More,” “Don’t Happen Twice,” and so on–might make you disinclined to do so. There’s something to be said for finding a theme that resonates with you and not racing to record every song that fits the mold: it makes the ones you do choose feel that much more special.

It’s a shame Chesney didn’t find “The Boys of Fall” before he had so thoroughly desensitized us to his particular brand of high school nostalgia. A few years ago, this might have felt like something special. Now, a great sense of ‘been there, done that’ overpowers whatever particular features (e.g. a specific focus on football) recommend this repetition of the theme. Let’s hope Chesney’s upcoming Hemingway’s Whiskey features songs of similar (or better) quality on topics he hasn’t already burnt through many times over.

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Listen: Kenny Chesney – “The Boys of Fall”

  1. Annie
    July 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Wow… Seriously? I see this song as already a classic. Everyone I know that knows football at ANY level LOVES this song!

  2. WAYNOE
    July 30, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Mr. Wilconx,

    Am I to interpret that you would have a more favorable review of this song if Chesney did not have so many adolescent-oriented songs in the past? While I agree with you on that point, it seems to me that each song should stand on its own and not be relative based upon an artist’s prior work.

    By the way, I am not a Chesney fan. Just wondering why a song cannot be reviewed as a stand-alone work.

  3. WAYNOE
    July 30, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Didn’t misspell your name intentionally. Sorry.

  4. countryuniverse.net
    July 30, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I don’t mind this one, probably because of Friday Night Lights show (which we love despite having no interest in football), but I totally know what you mean. I did have to stifle a groan when I first read what the theme was about.

  5. I Agree
    July 30, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I agree with CM on this one. If it’s not beach-oriented songs, it’s songs about the yearning to be a kid/teenager again.

    In my opinion, the album cut “Never Gonna Feel That Way Again” on No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems is probably the best song he’s ever recorded in terms of going back to the days of his youth.

    Annie: “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “For The Good Times” are classics. This Chesney song, like others he has recorded, are easily forgetable.

  6. I Agree
    July 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Also–

    Annie: I know and love football, but do not like this song, so don’t include me in your definition of “everyone.”

  7. Leeann
    July 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Oops, sorry about my name up there.

  8. Fizz
    July 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

    “Look at me, I’m an out-of-shape, overweight, middle-aged sad sack, but I tell you, I used to third wide-receiver on the team that went to the quarter-finals 25 years ago. Ask anybody!”

  9. Dan Milliken
    July 30, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Totally agree with the review. I like to stay in the “review it on its own merits” camp as much as I can, but sometimes context just weighs too heavily on a particular release. Kenny’s overuse of certain themes has left his post-90′s singles catalog without many (if any) distinctive entries. Even when he does one of his standby themes well, like with this song or “Beer in Mexico”, the quality doesn’t stand out because the song feels like just part of a mostly-uninspired series.

  10. WAYNOE
    July 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Most of Chesney’s songs are forgettable. They capture a moment in time. But for him, that moment passed a long time ago. He reminds me of a 40 year-old lifeguard still watching the teens and living in a beach shack.

  11. Drew
    July 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I’m in the camp that disagrees with the foundation of this review. Just because he’s done similar songs before, this gets put down a notch? I’m no Kenny fanboy, but that’s just not fair. When I was going through George Jones catalog, albeit over a longer career, I was astonished there were so many songs that were SO similar. So it’s bound to happen. I just don’t think it’s fair.

    Getting to the actual song though… I like most of the lyrics and think it’s a fairly strong song, a nice theme. Kenny’s performance is crap though. Sounds like he’s doing something weird to his voice in about 10 different places and I’m just not enjoying hearing him sing it.

  12. Leeann
    July 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I do think it’s fair to put a song in context with the rest of the artists’ songs.

  13. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 11:06 am

    It’s not particularly fair if all you do is say well, this guy has sung this kind of song before and leave it at that – especially if you’ve already said that it’s a good song and a good performance. If Dan’s right that “sometimes context just weighs too heavily on a particular release,” isn’t it the responsibility of the reviewer to show why this time is one of those times? Which, sorry, I don’t think this review does.

  14. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 11:11 am

    And BTW, I don’t think it’s a very good song.

  15. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I was with you up until, “A few years ago, this might have felt like something special.”

    I don’t think so. It’s a mediocre cut, and it still would have been a mediocre cut five or ten years ago.

  16. Thomas
    July 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

    …this song is solid chesney stuff. on its own, it’s not a world-beater, but it sounds remarkably good on the radio, especially when played right after “crazy town”. besides, there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing about one or the other “heroic” game over a few beers a couple of decades later.

  17. Ben Foster
    July 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Not a Chesney fan per se, but I thought this song was decent. Kenny has done plenty of nostalgia trips over the course of his career, but I thought this one felt much more meaningful than his previous attempts (like “Keg in the Closet” for example). I like how it focuses on a different aspect of his youth, whereas most of his comparable songs dealt with beer and women. I especially like how it describes the camaraderie between team members. (And no, I’ve never played football – I’d be scared at the very thought of stepping into that uniform!) Because of that, I didn’t really get much of a “been there, done that” feeling from this song.

  18. Dan Milliken
    July 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I will say that I like the song much more for its possibly unintended subtext (that the narrator seems to have peaked in high school) than for anything in the body of the song itself.

  19. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Yeah, I kinda said the same thin, Dan.

  20. Dan Milliken
    July 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Kinda.

  21. Dan Milliken
    July 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Ooooh, I just realized you probably meant at your Am Twang review, which I haven’t read yet. That makes more sense!

  22. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Yeah, that’s what I meant ;)
    I don’t think the subtext is unintended, though. In way, the narrator is literally singing about having peaked in high school. I just don’t think he does a very good job of explaining why that’s so, and why he misses that experience so much.

    It’s “Glory Days” without much of a story to tell.

  23. Fizz
    July 30, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Drew: So just because George Jones was redundant too, that makes it okay?

  24. Fizz
    July 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Ah hell, I was just about to make a “Glory Days” reference, but didn’t want somebody jumping on me for trying to apply rock parameters to a country song. Since they’re so different these days, you know.

  25. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I especially can’t help but think of “Glory Days” since this song adapts a baseball term “The Boys of Summer” to football. Defining a sport in terms of another sport kind of undermines the purported importance of second, in my opinion.

  26. Raine
    July 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    When I listen to an artist, I do tend to think of what they’re singing about in the context of what they’ve sung about before. Every artist has themes they return to…the difference is whether or not they can make you think “oh, no, not another one of these again!” Kenny Chesney’s performance on this song underwhelms what is otherwise one of his better songs in the nostalgia theme, and I find myself wishing someone else was singing it.

  27. Michelle
    July 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I liked a lot of his earlier stuff, and same with Martina, but most of their stuff, today, I find drab and boring. That’s too bad, because I think they’re both great singers.

  28. Barry Mazor
    July 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    What brings this particular song down a few notches, to me, is that the list of memories (which really is used a lot lately in all kinds of songs, not just country–is not very specific, and not all that memorable for it. The best songs of this type nail you with very specific things that make the listener freshly nostalgic, in a “nobody ever reminded me of THAT before” sort of way–and this one just goes to the lazy way out, the familiarly said phrase and prefab image, too often.

    To me, the question of talent in this sort of lyric is in finding and pointing out something “we all know and remember” which in fact we haven’t recalled and remembered quite that way before–if at all. Observations that are interesting!

    Look, they can’t all be gems, and might score, as is being said here, for the overall mood, sound, or attitude–but the songs like this that themselves become riveted memories, the ones somebody will want to come back to and sing again some time, have those fresh, telling recollections included.
    Something like Alan Jackson’s “Drive” is loaded with specific that made everybody feel that way–in a completely fresh way.

  29. Buddy
    July 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I dont think the listeners care what Kenny’s other songs sound like. Our testing shows this song will likely be number one in the next five weeks. My problem with this review is that this song was released as a single, timed for the season and reflective of the somber mood listeners have now. It may not be Kenny’s best, but it seems like what country listeners want to hear. That should count for something.

  30. Ken Morton, Jr.
    July 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Barry said it very well. The specifics of looking back at yesteryear draw more powerful feelings than just talking about our yesteryears. Other examples that come to mind are The Judds “Flies On The Butter” and Joe Diffie’s upcoming “Route 5 Box 109.” Both draw on very personal and specific memories and I think resonate with the listener better that way.

  31. Fizz
    July 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “Our testing,” Buddy? You mean your payola?

  32. idlewildsouth
    July 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I like the song alright, but I think the imagery could have been a little more original and imaginative. I do like that the subtext is that he’s peaked in high school, but for me, its not quite as romantic as it should/could be. To be looking back at ones glory days, it feels a little statement of fact, as opposed to ‘man those were the days’ kind of recollections. For my taste though, not a bad song for what it is.

    My question is….has he cut Guy Clarks “Hemingways Whiskey”?

  33. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    If you look at the lyrics, there is no subtext that he peaked in high school. If you hear one, it’s because you’re so accustomed to that then-and-now contrast – like, for instance, in “Glory Days” – that you’re putting it in there. But to me, one of the reasons why the song’s not so good is precisely that there is no subtext; it’s pure – and almost purely generic – reminiscence and nostalgia.

    Fizz, are you an expert on the country radio business now, too?

  34. idlewildsouth
    July 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    That may be the case, Jon, that were are putting it in there. But I think the reason for that may be that, while we all reminisce, had he not peaked in high school, would he still be looking back on it the way he is?

  35. Fizz
    July 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Jon, I worked in radio for a few years out of college. We had five stations in our cluster: two different rock stations, a country station, an ubran station and an AM talker. For each of the four music stations, just from what I observed (and I wasn’t even in management), payola is alive and well in all formats. It might be illegal, but money and favors still get traded for airplay, beyond just calling up a PD and arguing persuasively why a song should get a few spins. The urban station was probably the worst about it, but the country one wasn’t far behind. Classic rock probably the least. And if you think country radio is all that different from other music formats, for the most part, it’s not. Whatever kind of music it plays, the music isn’t the main goal. The goal is to sell commercials.

    On another note, I agree completely with what you said about a lack of subtext in this song, and a lot of others. Why fans allow their intelligence to be insulted by having this sort of zero-substance pablum spoon-fed to them, in a genre that’s supposed to have such deep roots in storytelling and nuance and tradition, I don’t know.

  36. CMW
    July 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    My question is….has he cut Guy Clarks “Hemingways Whiskey”?

    He has indeed!

    Thanks for all the comments on this review so far. I knew going in that my approach might be divisive – I much prefer considering songs as discrete entities – but in this case I felt that there was just too much other baggage to ignore. Dan’s first comment said it well:

    Kenny’s overuse of certain themes has left his post-90’s singles catalog without many (if any) distinctive entries. Even when he does one of his standby themes well, like with this song or “Beer in Mexico”, the quality doesn’t stand out because the song feels like just part of a mostly-uninspired series.

    Basically, I feel like this is a slightly above-average Chesney song with a standard Chesney vocal that’s actually less effective for the way he has led into it. I do think past works are relevant context, since how you’ll feel about this song has something to do with how you’ve withstood the line of similar songs leading up to it… in my case, not very well. I think the guy needs to find other stuff to sing about. “Hemingway’s Whiskey” gives me some hope.

  37. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Of course there’s no subtext “if you look at the lyrics.” If it was “in” the lyrics, it wouldn’t be subtext.

  38. Dan Milliken
    July 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    “If you look at the lyrics, there is no subtext that he peaked in high school.”

    Who’s singing the song (an older gentleman with an older-gentleman voice) and how the song sounds (kinda sad) are important factors in the listening experience, too.

    And even within the lyric, I would say there’s an unusually strong focus on how important the “Boys of Fall” (very heroic name, no?) were to the town. When you throw in the melody and hear how it tilts on the “you mess with one, you got us all” line, it’s like hearing him realize that he’ll never have friends like that again (which is a theme Chesney explicitly revisits on other songs of his).

    But subtext is bound to be pretty subjective anyway, so I don’t really understand the desire to make definitive statements about its presence/non-presence/theme.

  39. Rick
    July 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    CM said: “Let’s hope Chesney’s upcoming Hemingway’s Whiskey features songs of similar (or better) quality on topics he hasn’t already burnt through many times over.”

    Let’s face it while critics and discerning fans of country music in general (ie those who can’t handle Top 40 mainstream country any longer) will agree with you CM, Kenny is wisely targeting his sizable fanbase. Does anyone really think those folks get burned out on repetition? When it comes to Kenny’s music, they are like four year olds with a “Thomas The Tank Engine” DVD…

  40. Chris N.
    July 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I wonder how even his most ardent fans can tell one of these midtempo, nostalgic, melancholy songs from another anymore. How much wistful looking back at lost youth can one man do?

  41. Michelle
    July 30, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Well, is Jim Malec right or not??????

  42. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    @Dan “If you look at the lyrics, there is no subtext that he peaked in high school.”
    Who’s singing the song (an older gentleman with an older-gentleman voice) and how the song sounds (kinda sad) are important factors in the listening experience, too.

    Watch it with that “older-gentleman voice,” buster! ;-) If you mean the figurative “voice” of the narrator, I don’t see anything in the lyric that justifies that description, and if you mean literally, well, Chesney doesn’t sound like an older gentleman to me; he sounds like what he is, a guy around his early 40s. Which is not old, especially for a country music audience.

    And even within the lyric, I would say there’s an unusually strong focus on how important the “Boys of Fall” (very heroic name, no?) were to the town.

    I don’t see where it’s unusually strong; it’s the third verse. And I don’t see that the lyric statement that the football team is something that the whole town has always followed and always will implies that being on the team was the high point of the narrator’s life.

    And that’s the issue I have more generally with this subtext reading; it leans too hard on a narrow interpretation of nostalgia – that is, one that sees looking back with fondness for days gone by and regret for the passing of time (which itself is pretty attenuated in this song, suggested more by the melody than stated by the lyric) as inextricably linked to a belief that one’s on the downhill slide. And that is, in my opinion, a simplistic and impoverished understanding of how people look at the past.


    When you throw in the melody and hear how it tilts on the “you mess with one, you got us all” line, it’s like hearing him realize that he’ll never have friends like that again…

    To you, I guess; not to me – and again, even if that were the case, that’s not saying the same thing as saying that his life peaked in high school playing football. See above.

    … (which is a theme Chesney explicitly revisits on other songs of his).

    Perhaps this is a case where context is actually misleading; the fact that he’s visited the theme elsewhere doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily saying the same thing about it this time around.


    But subtext is bound to be pretty subjective anyway, so I don’t really understand the desire to make definitive statements about its presence/non-presence/theme.

    Sorry, I was just reacting to some rather “definitive” statements about its presence. Is the song nostalgic? Absolutely. Does it express a belief that the days of the narrator’s youth were something unique, never to be recaptured, and therefore to be remembered with a certain air of melancholy? Maybe. Does it express, explicitly or implicitly, a belief that those were the best days of the narrator’s life? Nope.

  43. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I wonder how even his most ardent fans can tell one of these midtempo, nostalgic, melancholy songs from another anymore. How much wistful looking back at lost youth can one man do?

    Apparently quite a bit. I mean, it may be a theme for Chesney in particular, but it’s not exactly unknown elsewhere in music…and film…and fiction…and poetry…and….

  44. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Well, is Jim Malec right or not??????

    No idea what you’re talking about, but I am glad that I managed to inspire six question marks.

  45. Stormy
    July 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Michelle:
    Yes. Subtext, by definition, means what’s between the lines of the text.

  46. Buddy
    July 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Wow Fizz. Sorry that your radio days left you so cynical. Large markets stations test the music. We also test spots, image and promotions. Every once in a while, you used to see our music tests in the old R&R mag. If the fans were tired of Kenny, we’d see high burnout numbers. Maybe next week, but none so far.

  47. Michelle
    July 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Jon said, “If you look at the lyrics there’s no subtext that he peaked in high school.” And you said, “Of course there’s no subtext in the lyrics, because if it was “in” the lyrics then it wouldn’t be subtext.”

  48. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @Stormy: The way I like to think of it, and how I teach it to writing students, is that subtext is what an author tells a reader without actually telling the reader. I don’t think the word “implicit” which has been thrown out here, is really the right word to use when we’re talking about literary subtext. Implication is too strong, in my opinion. When an author implies something, it’s meant to be obvious. Subtext is more subtle than that.

    If subtext was in the text it would just be text. And that’s just not very texty.

  49. Stormy
    July 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Especially when you are talking about an aural art form.

  50. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Of course there’s no subtext “if you look at the lyrics.” If it was “in” the lyrics, it wouldn’t be subtext.

    Nice quote marks around the word “in,” Jim. Who are you quoting?

    Subtexts are regularly discerned through examination of explicit texts. Thus we might speak of a subtext in a poem, short story or novel, even though there’s neither a melody, chord progression, arrangement, nor a performance of any sort from which to glean it, but only the explicit text. It’s hard to believe that Jim doesn’t understand this, given that he professes to be able to discern a subtext from just the title of this song. “Boys Of Fall” reminds him of “Boys Of Summer,” which reminds him of baseball, which reminds him of another song (“Glory Days”) in which the notion that the past was a high point is explicitly made in a series of stories (only the first of which involves baseball) in which that is pretty much the sole theme – and so, he apparently thinks, the narrator of *this* song must be saying the same thing.

    Thus Jim spins an elaborate subtext out of the title of this song – but when it comes to teasing a subtext out of its lyrics, well, he scoffs at the idea that the project’s even possible.: “Of course there’s no subtext ‘if you look at the lyrics.’” I guess he’s looking at tea leaves, then? Chicken entrails? His own experience as a one time high school football team member (as revealed in his own review of this same record)? Say, maybe *that’s* where this idea of high school football days as a life peak comes from. Talk about your subtext!

  51. Stormy
    July 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Why wouldn’t The Boys of Summer remind him of The Boys of Summer?

  52. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Subtexts are regularly discerned through examination of explicit texts.

    How a person discerns subtexts depends heavily on what form of literary criticism that person is working under. Frankly, I don’t think that you (or anyone) can make a statement about how subtext is “regularly” discerned, since there are many forms of literary criticism.

    Thus we might speak of a subtext in a poem, short story or novel, even though there’s neither a melody, chord progression, arrangement, nor a performance of any sort from which to glean it, but only the explicit text.

    Subtext specifically deals with things that are unsaid. It isn’t about coded language, but about tone, context and rationale (among other things). When two characters speaking two each other, the subtext we glean from their dialog doesn’t have to be written into the dialog—it can come from everything that we understand about the story, and from everything we understand about how those characters relate to the world.

  53. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    His own experience as a one time high school football team member (as revealed in his own review of this same record)? Say, maybe *that’s* where this idea of high school football days as a life peak comes from. Talk about your subtext!

    Actually, the idea comes from Dan—I merely said that I “kinda” agreed with it. Which makes me wonder why you’re even purporting all of this to me.

  54. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Attributing, obviously. Not purporting. It’s been a long day, and I keep forgetting I need to proof these comments, since I no longer have the ability to edit them!

  55. Jon
    July 30, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Was it some other Jim Malec that wrote this?

    I don’t think the subtext is unintended, though. In way, the narrator is literally singing about having peaked in high school. I just don’t think he does a very good job of explaining why that’s so, and why he misses that experience so much.

    To that Jim Malec I would say, maybe he doesn’t do a very good job of explaining why that’s so because it’s not what he’s saying, literally or otherwise.

    How a person discerns subtexts depends heavily on what form of literary criticism that person is working under.

    Translation: just because I can’t point to anything at all in this song that justifies a claim that the narrator “is literally singing about having peaked in high school” doesn’t mean it isn’t so. Because, er,um, ah, there are different forms of literary criticism that people work under. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Different forms of literary criticism – that’s what I tell my writing students about. When I’m, you know, teaching them all about writing.

    Thanks, Jim, but I’ll go with chicken entrails. Less high-falutin’, but more believable.

    This is a song which is intended to evoke nostalgia – an emotion which is not identical to regret, which in turn is not identical to a feeling that the peak of one’s life is in the past.

  56. Jim Malec
    July 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Because, er,um, ah, there are different forms of literary criticism that people work under. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Different forms of literary criticism – that’s what I tell my writing students about. When I’m, you know, teaching them all about writing.

    Mature.

  57. Kyle
    July 31, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I would like this song a lot more if, say, Trace Adkins had recorded it… someone with a more masculine voice and image (not to mention a college football lineman). I just can’t quite buy Chesney singing it, which may have something to do with the diminutive singer’s borderline obsession with being a “jock” (case in point, buying an ungodly expensive shoulder-massaging machine from a renowned hospital to take on the road with him). Plus, it’s a strange vocal performance to me. He almost sounds uncomfortably passionate when singing about his old teammates in parts of the chorus… kinda creeps me out.

    Bottom line is that, for my money, Kenny’s just not enough man’s man to really pull this song off. Honestly, I’d rather see Beathard play this himself (who, incidentally, grew up in an NFL family and bears an uncanny resemblance to Brett Farve). But that’s just me.

  58. Fizz
    July 31, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Yeah, Buddy, it was a medium-sized market, just north of a top-20 market, so a lot of our listeners tended to switch between our stations, and the big ones down there. As for testing, playing a 20-second snippet of a song to somebody over the phone, or playing songs for an auditorium full of people who’re getting a few bucks or a gift card … that’s what music radio has come to. “What songs will make people listen to our commercials?” “What do our consultants say?” “No can play that, it didn’t test well.” “Must play this every 90 minutes or else we’re absolutely sunk, because some folks listening on the phone picked the hook out of a lineup.” Big deal.

  59. klark
    July 31, 2010 at 5:32 am

    wow. this sounds like a retread of a retread of a retread of erm, uhm.. dunno lol

  60. gloria
    July 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I don’t understand why you guys go on so much about this ridiculous song from a 42 yr old guy still living in his high school days. It’s Kenny Chesney and his fans and country radio are so obsessed with him he could sing Old McDonald Had a Farm and it would go straight to the top. I don’t get his popularity..never have and never will. I agree with Kyle…I don’t think of Kenny as a real man’s man, so I don’t buy into his singing about playing football. He’s as bad as Taylor Swift and her immature songs, but then again she is still young and not 42 yrs old. Man, I’m getting so sick of Country radio and really the entertainment world all together. It’s all fake and nothing meaningful anymore. It’s all popularity and not real talent.

  61. WAYNOE
    July 31, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Gloria,

    Though you speak from emotion, you make a valid point and I agree with it.

    Kyle,

    Agreed. Toby Keith would be another one as he played semi-pro. Chesney singing this is a paradox for sure. Just look at his main audience demography.

  62. Blake Boldt
    July 31, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Chesney’s a limited vocalist, so it’s imperative to pick really strong material that hides his weaknesses as a singer. The theme seems promising in theory, but it’s been a little undercooked here.

  63. Dan Milliken
    July 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    “If you mean the figurative “voice” of the narrator, I don’t see anything in the lyric that justifies that description, and if you mean literally, well, Chesney doesn’t sound like an older gentleman to me; he sounds like what he is, a guy around his early 40s. Which is not old, especially for a country music audience.”

    I meant literally, and was obviously being silly with my description.

    I don’t see where it’s unusually strong; it’s the third verse.”

    Second verse: “They didn’t let just anyone in that club”; “kings of the school, man.” They were a huge focal point of their school/town community; that’s what I was getting at.

    “And I don’t see that the lyric statement that the football team is something that the whole town has always followed and always will implies that being on the team was the high point of the narrator’s life.”

    When it’s paired with calling oneself a somewhat self-aggrandizing name like “The Boys of Fall,” I do see it. It raises the question (to me, at least) of what this man could call himself now, if anything.

    And again: that’s just if we look at the lyric completely on its own, which isn’t how the song is really to be experienced anyway. I do think that the melody has an air of sadness, and do think that it’s reasonable to glean subtext from that. We may differ on that, and that’s fine. This is a subjective discussion no matter how you want to slice it.

    “And that’s the issue I have more generally with this subtext reading; it leans too hard on a narrow interpretation of nostalgia – that is, one that sees looking back with fondness for days gone by and regret for the passing of time (which itself is pretty attenuated in this song, suggested more by the melody than stated by the lyric) as inextricably linked to a belief that one’s on the downhill slide. And that is, in my opinion, a simplistic and impoverished understanding of how people look at the past.”

    That’s not my general interpretation of nostalgia at all, so I don’t really know where you’re getting it from. My belief that this narrator “peaked” (in some sense) in high school arises totally out of my experience of this one particular song, and it’s pretty presumptuous to assume otherwise. Though the interpretation you’ve constructed for me does sound appropriately “simplistic and impoverished,” so nice creativity skills, I guess.

    Remembering why I stopped bothering to defend my comments here a while ago. :-/

  64. Lewis
    July 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Is this true what I heard on the radio that Chesney was a high school football player? If so, I don’t see where or how he fit in since he’s about 5 foot 5 and hardly describes the average football player of high school or any other football player for that matter.

    Yes, Kenny is a very limited singer in which everything he sings about is either limited to the beach, beer, his own dreams, being young or wanting to be young, summertime, wanting to be Jimmy Buffett, etc. And take note here that not one of his singles pertains to a woman or talking about a woman. So what does that tell you?

  65. Michelle
    July 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I watched something on tv about KC and remember them mentioning that he was a football player in high school(receiver, I think).

  66. Stormy
    July 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    When I was a kid one of the top football players in our league (which was admittedly made up of very small schools) was named Paula Berry. I believe she played quarterback. We are at a point now when girls on the football team hardly and we now have at least one women coaching football. I don’t know that Football is quite the bastian of rugged masculinity that you all seem to think it is.

  67. numberonecountryfan
    July 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Well, Joe Namath DID wear pantyhose!

  68. Leeann
    July 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Stormy,
    You sure lived in a different world than the rest of us. I don’t mean this as an insult, but the way you describe the events of your life over time is much removed from anything I know.

  69. Stormy
    July 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Small towns are the mothers of innovation. The guys in Dayville had a choice–they could recruit a girl for football or they could be one person short of having a team.

  70. Emgee
    July 31, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Actually, I find this song better than many of Chesney’s latest releases. “I’m Alive” was pure agony. “Ain’t Back Yet” was annoying. This song is actually really good, IMO.

  71. kevin w
    July 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    “Stormy,
    You sure lived in a different world than the rest of us”

    You just figured that out?

  72. Stormy
    July 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I hate to break it to you, but y’all live in a world where girls play football too.

  73. Jon
    August 1, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Leeann, that would be a world where one swallow does make a summer. Assuming that Stormy’s story is actually correct – and there’s no obvious evidence available via an internet search – Paula Berry’s putative high school football career ended nearly a quarter of a century ago. So while we may live in a world where a girl has played high school football, to say that we live in a world where girls play football is far more wrong than right.

  74. Stormy
    August 1, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Here is a site that lists other girls who played high school football (including girls who played football and were homecoming queens.
    http://www.fortunecity.com/wembley/mueller/641/princesses/girls.html

    And here is the website to the Women’s Independent Football League:
    http://www.iwflsports.com/

    Girls play football.
    Gay guys play football (heck, they even have their own Rugby league)
    Straight guys are cheerleaders.
    So can we get off this BS about how somehow Kenny Chesney isn’t masculine enough to play football? Because you don’t have to conform to masculine sterotypes to play football. You just have to be able to play football.

  75. Leeann
    August 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I have no doubt that they play football, but it’s certainly not the norm. It’s a dangerous sport even for guys.

  76. Stormy
    August 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    But if girls can and do play football, why is it a shock that Kenny Chesney does?

  77. Paul
    August 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I agree with the comment by “I Agree” near the beginning who mentioned “Never Gonna Feel that Way Again,” as Chesney’s best nostalgia song. I remember listening to it on repeat hundreds of times. It captures almost perfectly a feeling of unrecoverable innocence, camaraderie, and fledgling romance. The only difference is that “Never Gonna Feel” approaches football and romantic relationships as two parts of the same overall experience, while the not-as-good “The Boys of Fall” focuses excusively on football.

    Chesney sounds almost morose in “the Boys of Fall,” and it clearly uses a very similar (almost identical) musical approach as “Anything but Mine,” but I still think it’s a reasonably good song that will resonate with a lot of people.

  78. Jon
    August 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Just an FYI, Stormy: Kenny Chesney is not a girl. So while girls may be capable of playing high school football, and while a handful have been able to actually do so over the years, neither of those is remotely relevant. On the other hand, the fact that Chesney actually did play high school football is – or would be if this “believability” stuff had any merit to it.

  79. Chris N.
    August 1, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Pretty sure that was a joke.

  80. Kristina (Cakiea)
    August 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I’m really not tn to this or much of anything Kenny has done lately and I was a huge fan back in my early teens. It seems to me his nostalgia songs peaked on No Shirt No Shoes No Problems. There are some very good Chesney album cuts, Demons is leaps and bounds better then the rest of Poets & Pirates, California off Everywhere We Go, and his version of Please come to Boston is my favorite.
    And every time I read the title of the song I start singing “Saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac…….”

  81. Jon
    August 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Read futher back, Chris.

  82. Noeller
    August 2, 2010 at 11:08 am

    FWIW, I thoroughly enjoy watching Jon and Malec go toe-to-toe on here. Two guys with an obvious writing background duking it out over the definition of “subtext” brings my English major/Communications diploma geek out.

    Great reading guys!! :)

    Oh, and the song is alright, but I think it’s definitely meant to be specific to Americans, ’cause while we love our 3-Down Football up north here, we certainly don’t have enough of a passion for it to require a song that is SOLELY about the game of football. The whole theme just seemed too specific and aimed at a very specific demo.

    We’ve all certainly heard KC do a lot worse, but that’s a low bar to be jumping over.

  83. Tex
    August 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Never have been a big Kenney Chesney fan, but I really enjoyed watching this video. Nice job

  84. Carl
    August 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    This is a great country song. If you don’t like this song, then you either hated high school (which means you weren’t part of the cool club), you were gay (not many gay men like football), or you were just a geek/nerd in high school (see subpoint #1). Which one of three was it for CM Wilcox? Inquiring minds want to know.

  85. Kyle
    August 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    These comments can be so insightful… for example, I recently learned that I am a homosexual loser from New York City because I don’t like Colt Ford or this Kenny Chesney song. Who woulda thunk it???

  86. Tim Gerould
    August 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I turn the channel every time this drivel comes on. Pure formula.
    Down the road. was a good song, this not so much. BTW I’m not gay. Love football. and I played sports in HS. This song is almost laughable!

  87. Jo
    August 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    When I first heard this song, I thought it was a Bruce Springsteen cover. It reminds me of ‘One Step Up’ off of his ‘Tunnel of Love’ album way back in 1987.

    I think Bruce would have done a much better job.

  88. Jane
    August 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I agree. I heard this song for the first time and found it completely lame.

  89. Robin
    August 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Great song. It WILL be a classic. While “He Stopped Loving Her Today” may be a classic, others can be too. If you didn’t live it, you may not understand it. Period. Get over it. So what he has a theme, don’t most singer/songwriters. Why do you have to be so negative. It’s a great song, for some people. Maybe they aren’t trying to relive their youth, but they might occassionally like to remember how it felt.

  90. Anonymous
    August 10, 2010 at 4:35 am

    I just think it is scary that Jim Malec teaches and let’s his personal agenda seep into the minds of the youth of our country. Were you George W. Bush’s professor? Because if so, that explains a lot.

    But Chesney isn’t a limited performer. And how can YOU criticize when you haven’t had success in the field. A journalism (if you even have one) degree doesn’t justify it. Have you performed in front of 50,000 in Qwest Field, in Boston, etc? Doubtful…

  91. Thomas
    August 10, 2010 at 5:04 am

    …if jim malec’s thinking could change the course of the world – it’ll most probably make it a twangier one. on second thought, that must sound a little scary in the ears of an anonymous chesney fan.

  92. Stormy
    August 10, 2010 at 7:52 am

    But Chesney isn’t a limited performer. And how can YOU criticize when you haven’t had success in the field. A journalism (if you even have one) degree doesn’t justify it. Have you performed in front of 50,000 in Qwest Field, in Boston, etc? Doubtful…

    Wow, if that is your criteria, Lady Gaga is SO much better than Kenny Chesney.

  93. Dakota
    August 10, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I TOTALLLY D-I-S-A-G-R-E-E!!!! AS I CAN TELL, YOU MUST NOT BE A FOOTBALL FAN NOR A COUNTRY MUSIC FAN. BEACAUSE IF YOU WERE. YOU’D KNOW THE QUALITY OF THIS SONG.. THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE OF THE MANY, MANY GREATEST SONGS TO EVER BE CUT ONTO AN ALBUM… SO THATS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY

  94. Anonymous
    August 11, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Lady Gaga has sold out stadiums? Don’t think so.

  95. Stormy
    August 11, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Lady Gaga is selling out stadiums and selling them out a year in advance.

  96. Jim Malec
    August 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Yes, as a matter of fact I was Geroge W. Bush’s professor.

  97. Jon
    August 12, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    That would certainly explain his propensity for bloviating, wouldn’t it?

  98. Jim Malec
    August 13, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Good one!

  99. Jody
    August 13, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I think this song is wonderful! My son is 14 and will be a freshman this year. He went out for football this year. He has never played football, but I think he will love it! When I heard this song, it actually made we cry because of what my son has to look forward to in the next 4 years. We are from a small town and know exactly what Kenny is singing about.

  100. Jennifer W
    August 19, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Have to tell you, this song has resonated with me since the first time I heard it; first because the melody meshed so well with the lyrics, and then because it left me with a proud and positive feeling, something akin to patriotism. It’s an All-American song sung by a man who puts much heart into his work, regardless of it’s message. So far, I think he has done a great job of making most of us all feel pretty good when his music is playing, and that’s the rub.

  101. Regina George
    September 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    This song is lame. I think the descriptions are weak and you kind of have to read between the lines to even assume what it’s about. I personally thought it was about the army at first. If not for the fact that I personally know that Chesney used to play ball and that the football season happens to be fall, I would have not known what he was talking about. almost the whole chorus could be aluded to any number of things. I think Kenny doesnt nostalgia awesome. It’s his thing. but really? this song, sucks.

  102. Rob
    September 9, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    In any buisness you give your consumers what they want. That’s what Chenesy does. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. Many people like what he does. I think the song may touch some people and some don’t get.

  103. Erica
    September 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

    #1 Smash Hit! The 9513 was wrong again!

  104. Barry Mazor
    September 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

    “Wrong again”? Until people figure out that a review or critical discussion of something is not a “prediction” of sales–and that sales may or may not be evidence of what somebody might be looking for in critical discussions, this sort of thing will go round and round forever. I suppose it will.

    Reviews are subjective–and meant to be. You trust and follow the argument and give the point made credibility, or you don’t.

    But the question is not “will this sell or not?” unless it’s asked that way!

  105. Billy
    September 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Anybody who played football or loves watching football at any level (and football is America’s #1 sport) will love this song.

    Anybody who didn’t play football or doesn’t love watching football at any level will not like this song.

    It’s as simple as that.

  106. Brady Vercher
    September 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I played football and watch my fair share of games every week during the season, but besides it’s generic construction, this song is too cheesy for my tastes.

    So it’s not quite that simple.

  107. Jeff
    October 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    The review, like most every review on here, is loaded with bullshit. Great song this is!

  108. Stormy
    October 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    It also kind of contradicts itself:

    “They didn’t let just anybody in that club
    It took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood
    To get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall
    The kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall”

    “In little towns like mine, that’s all they’ve got”

    In little towns, actually, all you have to do is show up to make the team, and when you have 12 boys on an 8 man sqaud, they are all wearing those game day pads.

  109. Barry Mazor
    October 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Gee, Jeff. Here’s a chance for me to get more education again.

    Where have you seen reviews that you did not consider “full of bullshit?”

    Did any of those ever say things you disagreed with, or are all things you disagree with bull?

  110. sam (sam)
    October 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Stormy – I don’t see the contradiction. I interpret the “that’s all they got” line to be suggesting that in towns like Chesney’s (perhaps not all little towns), the football team is very important to the local community. I don’t think he is trying to literally say, “the town has a football team and nothing else.”

    I don’t see how that contradicts anything Chesney says.

    Moreover, I don’t doubt you when you say that in some little towns that virtually anyone who wants to play can. But Chesney isn’t talking about that kind of town, and those “like his” that seems not to have been the case.

    Whatever else is right or wrong with the song, I don’t see the contradiction in the lyrics that you are discussing.

  111. Richard
    October 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    #1 Smash Hit! The 9513 was wrong again!

    My GOD I am sick of people who judge a song’s quality on it’s chart position. Does this also mean that recent #1 hits “Water,” “Our Kind of Love” and “Gimme That Girl” are good songs? No. The charts are nothing but a show of what’s getting played on the radio the most. Right now, it’s “Come Back Song” by Darius Rucker. Blah. I don’t have anything major against this song, either. However, I don’t think it’s great just because it hit #1.

  112. Jasmine
    December 2, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Ok, this song is good, no matter what y’all have to say about it. I’m an avid country music listener and i think my opinion matters more than rich, proper critics. I like this song because its a good story line that makes me think and wonder. That is what i love in a song.

  113. Barry Mazor
    December 2, 2010 at 9:22 am

    We’ll keep an eye out for those rich, proper critics..

  114. Bonnie
    December 2, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Water, Our Kind Of Love and Gimmie That Girl were all great songs, whether they hit #1 or not!

  115. Dan
    December 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    There in only one GREAT sports song,
    Centerfield by John Fogerty

    until now

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