You Don’t Get To



This is the best song off Kenny Chesney’s latest LP, “Here and Now.”

Unfortunately by writing that sentence I’ve immediately turned off many of my readers. They don’t care about country music, they don’t care about Kenny Chesney, at best they’ve got time for the hits, but album tracks, no way. Or else they’re the people who say their album tracks are better, the ones who e-mail you their faves, many of whom don’t even bother to listen to what I’ve written about. But in this case they should.

I can’t say that you don’t hurt me anymore

Vulnerability. Lasts much longer than the relationship. No matter whether you were the leaver or the left, when you hear what the other person is doing…it gets to you, under the skin, in a creepy way, you can talk to others about it, but they can never get it, what happened happened between the two of you.

Not that you don’t try to buck yourself up, feel good about yourself, try to mentally move on, but that’s impossible, despite the celebrities who jump from relationship to relationship, those are not deep, those are not bonds, and the truth is you have to mourn what you had before you can move on.

I haven’t changed enough to make me think I’m what you’re looking for

It’s hard to listen to a lot of country hits. The pandering makes you wince. To family, religion, a two-dimensional lifestyle that doesn’t really exist. Or else there’s the mindless hedonism. All this is the opposite of country music’s heritage, which was based on authenticity, it was the pop hits that were based on sheen, whereas country went straight for the heart.

And I can’t be the fix for what you’re going through
Maybe I’m not the same me, but you’re still the same you

He’s telling himself she’s troubled, he can’t fix her, but it’s taking all his strength not to try once again. He’s telling her he’s moved on, but in a way that’s protective.

So you don’t get to know what I do with my time

You stopped calling them. You’ve convinced yourself they’ve stopped calling you. But then the phone rings, it always happens, and they want to know how you’re doing, and you want to tell them, you’re dying to tell them, but you know that by revealing yourself you’ll just hurt that much more thereafter.

You don’t get to say you ain’t doing all right

That comes next, after you’ve told a bit of your story, they unload, they tell you they miss you, they need a hit of what only you offer.

You don’t get to come around saying that you want me now
You don’t get to show up with that look in your eyes
You don’t get to think you can take it all back
You don’t get to miss that you said we never had

They have power over you. After all, they were the one who left you, who broke it off, and with the right tonality and the right look they can seduce you, do you have the strength to say no? And if you’ve moved on enough, you zing them, play their words back to them, they explained why you were not what they were looking for, but now in a pinch they want to lean on your shoulder, even maybe get back together, but you don’t want them to settle, nobody wants to settle, you always want to be number one.

Did you come back ’cause I didn’t break enough
Did you hear that I was happy, you just had to mess it up

They get to move on, start a new life, make new friends, but they expect you to stay where you were, not changing, and they can come back and plug themselves into your life like two jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together.

Or is it just some phase you’re always going through
To want what you can’t have and leave it when you do

If they can’t be happy, you can’t. And if you take them back suddenly they want out again, you’re never enough.

You don’t get to kiss me and make it all better
You don’t get to lay it all out in a letter

The letters are the worst, the opposite of ghosting, they’re testifying in permanent ink, they’re trying to convince you you’re necessary after saying just the opposite.

Blame it on something, break me like it’s nothing
Just to love me back together

Excuses. Those are the worst. Where they try to convince you it was them and you should just forgive their behavior.

And you don’t get to show up with your hair hanging down
Move a little closer like you’re moving right now

Physicality. We’re all just animals under the skin. We crave the human touch. And it’s familiarity we’re drawn to. It’s hard to hold back from the closeness, it’s a magnetic effect, drawing you two together, furthermore she knows what turns you on, she’s got her wiles, she knows how to close you. Turning on her sexy, yet meaningful vibe, sidling right up to you and then…
Disappearing once again.

I don’t have to understand, you don’t get to give a damn

That privileged place, being your number one, the shoulder you cry on, the one who listens to your foibles, your wants and desires, that’s what you long for but that’s not what you can let her be, for then it’s all over, you’re back where you started, you have to be strong, but can you be?

After all you put me through, no, you don’t get to
You don’t, you don’t, you don’t, you don’t get to

He’s trying to convince himself. By remembering the hell she put him through. Less the turmoil of the relationship than the pulling away and the ultimate break. If she were really to be trusted, if she really loved him, she wouldn’t have done this. And there are certain behaviors you should not be able to get over, never.

“You Don’t Get To” is like a country song of yore in its reverse lyrics. You have to listen closely to understand what is going on. Furthermore, the protagonist evidences the opposite of today’s public persona, whether it be a celebrity or just a regular person on social media. We’re always putting forth our best selves, we’re shaving off our edges, our vulnerabilities, it’s like we’re automatons, shiny, happy and beautiful all day long, even though that’s not the truth, it’s not the nature of the human condition, life contains ups and downs, you can try to deny this, but you’re just lying to yourself. The same day you’re elated can be the same day you’re depressed. You can’t necessarily understand, and you look to your significant other for understanding, but too often there’s no one there, and you think back to who used to be, desiring their return but knowing it just can’t happen. Oh, it might happen but it won’t solve your problems, you’ll feel good for a bit, but then you’ll be back in the same rut with the same issues, why is it when you connect with an old love you quickly remember why it didn’t work?

“You Don’t Get To” is the tenth of twelve tracks on “Here and Now.” It’s buried deep, only for dedicated listeners. But if you take the time, if you’re a fan, like me, it jumps out at you. Funny, it’s been the same forever. You get an album, play it, and then one track jumps out, at least when we used to have time to listen to albums, never mind over and over, when music was scarce and you went deep into the well instead of partaking at the endless smorgasbord of available music.

I like to nod my head, I even like to bang my head, I like to listen mindlessly, but the tracks that mean the most to me contain an element of truth, an element of humanity, that not only can I identify with but reaches into my soul and resonates, like the singer knows something about me nobody else does, like the singer is on my wavelength, and if I just continue to listen I can make it to the next rock as I hop down the river of life.

That’s “You Don’t Get To.”

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