Kenny Chesney only played two shows this summer, choosing to focus on his new album — the chart-topping The Big Revival — instead of continuing a summertime tradition that dates back to 2001. As to be expected from someone who’s spent most of the 21st century’s warmer months on the road, he made those two gigs seriously count, drawing more than 40,000 fans to a free beachfront show on the Florida/Alabama line in mid-August before scaling things back at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, where he played an intimate, two-hour CMT Instant Jam show to 1,000 people later that month.
Those who couldn’t make it to the Georgia Theatre concert can still catch a glimpse of the show by checking out this live, unreleased clip of “‘Til It’s Gone,” making its premiere exclusively on Rolling Stone Country. Filmed toward the end of the night, it’s an intimate, no-frills performance, with Chesney and his seven-piece band playing their newest single on a stage that’s pretty much free of the lights, Jumbotrons and high-tech gadgets that’ve become staples of his 50,000-seat stadium shows.
Although he didn’t write the song — that role went to Rodney Clawson, David Lee Murphy and Jimmy Yeary — Chesney has a strong personal attachment to “‘Til It’s Gone,” a seize-the-day anthem about making the most of your time with a loved one. He also views it as a tribute to his own fan base, the “No Shoes Nation,” whose support helped send the album’s previous single, “American Kids,” to the top of the charts. (Clawson co-wrote that one, too.)
“This is a song about hanging on right where you are with someone you love,” Chesney says of “Til It’s Gone,” “be it a good buddy, a lover, or in my case, the No Shoes Nation, who’ve been here since it was me and a buncha guys in an old Silver Eagle tour bus. The idea is: be where you are, and embrace the hell out of it. When you do that, amazing things happen.”
“After ‘American Kids,’ having ‘Til It’s Gone’ as the next single was important to me,” he adds. “I wanted something completely fresh that was all about being free-spirited and invested not just in life, but coloring outside the lines… and with that, I wanted a song that also said, ‘No matter what color you pick, or which lines you blur, I’m with you.’”
The Georgia Theatre show, which also featured covers of Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” and George Strait‘s “Carried Away” (performed for an audience that included George Strait himself, whom Chesney dialed up via FaceTime), will be Chesney’s last until 2015.