Kenny Chesney, ‘When I See This Bar’ – Song Review
Kenny Chesney's new single 'When I See This Bar' will draw comparisons to many a John Mellencamp song, and with good reason. The acoustic-electric mix sounds like something the Cougar may have cut years ago. There's an anthemic feel to his story of small (island) town life. But most importantly, the lyrics feel as genuine and honest as the rocker's best-known hits.
There's no doubt 'When I See This Bar' is Chesney's story, and he tells it well. The song doesn't just celebrate the virtues of a place to find friends and maybe some stress relief. The singer is honest in admitting it can be lonely at times.
"I see tourists at Christmas time / And I taste beers with a hint of lime / I feel lonely cause it's not the same / Different faces and different names / Living like pirates out among the stars / Yeah, that's what I see when I see this bar," he sings during the second verse, subtly showing a character flaw that makes him that much more endearing.
There isn't really a true chorus, although a two-line stanza between bridges fills in effectively: "Pieces of our past slowly slip away / But time just stands still when I walk in this place."
The story, and Chesney's delivery, would be enough to allow the song to stand on its own, but the arrangement moves one to feel a true catharsis about two minutes in, right when the electric guitars begin to overtake the rootsy feel that opens the track. It's a fist-pump moment.
"And I see a kid coming into his own / And a man learning to move on / Somehow trying to find his way, / A dreamer betting on blind faith / Chasing that sun and following his heart / Yeah, that's what I see when I see this bar," Chesney sings.
While once criticized for leaning too heavily on an island vibe, the singer shook off those remarks and returned to a sound that while not totally original, still fits him well. These are the sort of songs that make his live concert a great experience. Smartly-written, but not pretentious. Wild, but not careless. Familiar, but not tired ... the singer hits a home run with 'When I See This Bar,' a song that will become his most fun No. 1 hit since the mid '00s.
Listen to Kenny Chesney, 'When I See This Bar'