Kenny Chesney's latest album, Here and Now, made it to the top spot of the all-genre Billboard 200 Chart in the week ending May 7, earning Chesney his ninth trip to the top of the list. That number ties him with Garth Brooks, who has also notched nine No. 1 albums on the chart, and the two stars now share the honor of the most all-time No. 1s on the chart for a country act.
Chesney is the first country artist to top the charts since Luke Combs went to No. 1 with his sophomore album, November's What You See Is What You Get, and the success of Here and Now, which moved 233,000 equivalent album units, gave Chesney his 17th No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. "This number one is so gratifying," Chesney said in a statement, via Nash Country Daily. "It says so much about the players and the songwriters, everyone working in a creative capacity in Nashville, as well as all the people working to get this music into the hands of the people who love and want it."
Here and Now, released on May 1, was originally supposed to land in fans' hands after Chesney had embarked on his Chillaxification Tour, but the coronavirus pandemic has pushed back the start date for the trek, which is currently holding at May 30. The Tennessee native told Taste of Country that the album's title track is a bit of a contradiction, seeing as he's always on the go, but quarantine has forced him to press pause and live, as the song says, in the here and now.
"I knew that I was looking for a specific energy for me to stand up there on stage and what I wanted to say to my audience, you know, with this new music," he said of hearing "Here and Now" for the first time. "I knew it was a contradiction of myself because I'm constantly moving. I crave living in the here and now and I know it's important. It's what this time right now has really, really... it's been good for all of us that are busy that want to be still, because now we're forced to be still. And it's forcing us to live in the here and now."
"For me, when you're all the time planning to be somewhere else, it's hard to live in the moment," he continued. "I love the song because it's what I crave in my life, but it's also what I want to preach to my audience. Or what I want to say to them, I don't preach really — and how special it is to be up there, to see them and them see me and we get to spend three hours together. We don't have to worry about later tonight. We don't have to worry about yesterday or tomorrow or last week or last year, all we gotta worry about is right here, right now. And love each other and enjoy the music, and that's what made me really love the song."