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Kenny Chesney, the Unlikely Environmentalist

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, green living, Kenny Chesney, Sierra Club, Sierra magazine, PlanIt Now, hurricane, disaster, emergency preparedness,

At least his shirt is greenCountry singer Kenny Chesney is an unlikely environmental advocate: I haven’t seen many “hot country” megastars carrying a green message to their rabidly red, white, and blue fans. So I was surprised to see an interview with the zillion-selling artist on the website of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club. Sierra was there to talk about Chesney’s involvement with the hurricane disaster-preparedness group PlanIt Now, a Sierra Club partner. Chesney was apparently there to display his environmental ignorance, along with a Palinesque ability to give disastrous answers to simple questions.

Early in the Q&A, Chesney seems to be on the verge of connecting some dots between extreme weather and climate change:

Sierra: Have your experiences with PlanIt Now affected you personally?

Chesney: It's made me think about how fragile life and the environment are. We only see the impact at its most severe, but it's a delicate balance out there. Loving the islands and the ocean the way that I do, every time I'm anywhere on my boat or on a beach now, I look at it in a whole new way. I realize how easily it could be gone.

He soon undercuts any notion that he’s some sort of eco-activist with a big hat, though:

Sierra: Have you changed any of your habits at home or on the road to reduce your environmental impact?

Chesney: On the road, I know we're always making sure that the catering gets to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. There's still a lot we don't eat, and the idea that we're feeding some of the hungriest people in the cities we play is a good feeling.

That’s right: He and his tour entourage are reducing their environmental impact by giving their leftovers to hungry people. Bravo for your eco-humanitarianism, cowdudes.

Finally, there’s this rich exchange:

Sierra: How have rising fuel prices affected your touring and travel choices?

Chesney: I think it's making the fans think twice about what they're going to do for entertainment. We drive 55 trucks for stadium shows, and I don't want to pass the fuel costs on to the fans. I've always believed in being affordable, so we're going to be having some very interesting conversations about what next year is going to look like.

Fifty-five trucks! And it’s the fans who need to think twice about how to remedy this! Ecorazzi razzed Chesney back in August for bragging about the massiveness of his stage show, but clearly he didn’t get the memo. If he didn’t already seem like the next Jimmy Buffett with his good-time beach bum shtick, he’s clearly entered the Margaritaville city limits now.

Here’s an idea, Kenny: Leave the 55 trucks at home, get on a fucking horse, and tour the country like a real cowboy troubadour—with zero emissions. Then we’ll buy you as a voice for the environment. Until then, shut up and sing.

Image by John VanderHaagen, licensed under Creative Commons.