Kenny Chesney has built a highly successful career recording songs that mirror his life. Whether on a Caribbean island or a bus rolling to his next tour stop, he has taken his audience along for the r

Kenny Chesney has built a highly successful career recording songs that mirror his life. Whether on a Caribbean island or a bus rolling to his next tour stop, he has taken his audience along for the ride, and they have enthusiastically responded. Chesney continues that journey on "The Road and the Radio," which arrives this week via BNA.

The title track, "Living in Fast Forward" and "In a Small Town" are among the autobiographical songs here. "That's what this record is. It has to be to connect with people," country music's reigning entertainer of the year says. "People want to see you in a song."

Chesney feels that transparency has been crucial to his success. "I used to just record songs that would sound good on the radio, but didn't really mean anything to me or anybody else," he says. "When I quit doing that is when my life changed. A song today has to mean something to me. It has to have a slice of my life in it. If it doesn't, then it's not doing anybody any good."

That philosophy has propelled Chesney from obscurity to the top of the country format, but it has also ratcheted up his celebrity appeal. Indeed, Chesney found himself the target of a media firestorm this year in the wake of his brief marriage to actress Renee Zellweger and its ensuing annulment. Though some fans might hear songs on the new album like "Beer in Mexico" and think they were written about the breakup, Chesney says that was not the case.

"They'll read stuff into anything," he says with a laugh. "Believe me, I'm no stranger to speculation these days. Only me and the guys that wrote them with me know when we wrote them and why we wrote them. 'Beer in Mexico' was actually about a relationship, but not about the most recent one."

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