Welcome to the sandbar – welcome to the sandbar

“Sometimes that waiting really fires you up,” explained the 8-time Entertainer of the Year. “You’re ready to go, and then it builds, and builds. It doesn’t hurt that the crowds in East Rutherford are such passionate, dig deep music fans. This was our sixth time. They were so loud, so in the moment, I loved listening to them sing these songs back to us.”

Playing to 58,642 members of No Shoes Nation, Chesney not only had his own best attendance number, he became the biggest ticket seller at MetLife Stadium. In six plays, the same number as Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen & the E. Street Band and Bon Jovi, Chesney’s total numbered 338,516 – 10,000 ahead of the next closest performer. Just as stunningly, Chesney became the only country artist in the Meadowlands/MetLife Top 10 concert draws of all time: joining Springsteen (30 plays ), the Grateful Dead (14), Bon Jovi (14), U2 (11), the Rolling Stones (9), Dave Matthews Band (9) and Billy Joel (7).

“When they told me, I couldn’t really get my head around it,” Chesney marveled. “Those are big numbers. But you know, to me, when we hit that stage, and I saw all those people, soaking wet, who’d hung through the evacuation and had come for the music; to me, that was the greatest sight in the world – and it’s why we come back year after year. They rock us harder than we rock them!”

By the time guitarist Kenny Greenberg, clad in a Stone Pony t-shirt, grabbed a banjo for the two week No. 1 “Get Along,” Chesney, band and audience had found their groove. When the cheers for “American Kids” went on for almost a minute, the man Variety called, “Country music’s only long-term stadium act” threw the song back to the crowd for a bonus chorus. Old Dominion guitarist and “Save It For A Rainy Day” co-writer Brad Tursi was surprised with an oversized birthday margarita, and Thomas Rhett improvised “Kenny Chesney gets a whole lot hotter when the sun goes down” during his guest turn on the six week No. 1 duet with Uncle Kracker.

“This was the last night for Thomas and OD,” Chesney said. “It’s been an incredible summer, filled with so much incredible music, heart and great people. Tonight on stage, after all of it, you could really feel the power of what music does for and to people. You can have a ton of rainfall stop the momentum, but you can’t stop the songs. It’s why we do what we do, and I hope it’s why No Shoes Nation keeps coming back.”

The connection between Chesney and the audience isn’t just a live proposition. Songs for the Saints, which benefits the Love for Love City Fund, topped the Country Albums chart and was the biggest selling debut on the Top 200. On the heels of the record-breaking “Get Along,” Chesney’s 30 th No. 1 made him the artist with the most No. 1s in history, record-breaking seems to be the order of the summer.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hits are easy, songs that last rare. Kenny Chesney has built a career on writing and seeking songs he believes embody the life people actually inhabit, the times they live in and the ways they let go, while always trying to push the music itself. That mantra saw him break Billboard’s record for Most No. 1s on the Country Airplay Chart, as “Get Along” became his 30th chart-topper. Now that philosophy finds 19 songs from across his career receiving gold, platinum and double-platinum certifications, because they’ve become songs people listen to as the soundtrack to their lives.

“I know what music means to me, and I know what songs can do,” says the songwriter/superstar. “Just because something’s fun, that doesn’t mean it can’t matter; just because something’s a ballad, doesn’t mean it needs to mean more. Over the years, I have really tried to push what we were doing, say the stuff people never said for kids like me – and find the sweet spot where melody and lyric reflect each other in a way that makes each song even more than any one thing.”

That philosophy has worked. With 32 total certifications, Chesney just learned 19 songs have been certified gold, platinum or double-platinum, starting with “Me and You,” “She’s Got It All,” “How Forever Feels” and “You Had Me from Hello” striking gold through Cosmic Hallelujah’s “Noise” and “All the Pretty Girls” to join the already platinum “Setting the World On Fire.”

With five multi-platinum, 10 platinum and five gold albums just certified, every album Chesney recorded with Sony Nashville now has precious metal certification. His myriad of singles are also catching up with certifications, proving even the obscure songs – like the now gold album track “Back Where I Come From” – define the way No Shoes Nation experience the world around them.

“When I’m looking at a song, I’m looking at how true does it feel,” explains the eight-time Entertainer of the Year. “I want things I’ve not already said, but also excite me musically. When I heard ‘You and Tequila,’ it so perfectly captured that addiction to people you know aren’t good for you; it never went to No. 1, but it’s double-platinum. Or ‘Noise,’ one of those songs in the moment nobody realized how badly it needed to be said, but I think the way the melody and the track felt, the way those words were – it’s become almost a purging when we do it live.”

Over the course of 10 albums, Chesney’s music found four double-platinum certifications for “American Kids,” “Come Over,” “You and Tequila” and “Somewhere With You,” platinum for “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” “Pirate Flag,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “Beer In Mexico,” “Out Last Night,” “I Go Back” and “There Goes My Life,” and gold for “Noise,” “Young,” “Better As A Memory,” “All the Pretty Girls” and the above mentioned songs.

“I don’t watch these things,” confesses the man The LA Times called “The People’s Superstar,” addressing the news. “My only measure is how the people respond when we sing these songs live. But seeing all this on paper, it blows my mind, and it makes me happy for all the songwriters who gave me pieces of their heart and their life, and for all the people listening who’ve found their own turning points, best times, hard truths and realizations in this music. This isn’t mine, but really theirs, because these certifications come from how people found themselves in the music.”

In the midst of his record-smashing Trip Around the Sun Tour with 19 major stadiums, the enduring nature of these songs and albums stands out. Early hits “Don’t Happen Twice” and “How Forever Feels” draw the same roar as “American Kids,” “Somewhere With You” and “Noise.” With all that passion, the heavy metal certification of this rich Sony Nashville catalogue makes complete sense.