Better Boat

Album: Songs for the Saints (2018)
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  • Lyrics
  • Written by Travis Meadows and Liz Rose, Chesney songs on this mellow, acoustic anthem of lessons learned through the storms of life.

    Now and then I let it go
    I ride the waves I can't control
    I'm learning how to build a better boat


    The song first appeared on Meadows 2017 album, First Cigarette.
  • In September 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands was devastated by Category 5 storms as Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused extensive damage to buildings and the island's power grid. St. John, the island that Chesney has called home for many years was hugely affected and half of the island's 4,500 residents were forced to evacuate. The singer had had "Better Boat" on his radar for quite some time, but it seemed especially relevant in the wake of the tragedy. While his entire Songs For the Saints album was born out of the disaster, this cut is the one that hits home the most.

    "Of all the songs on there, 'Better Boat,' I think really captures the emotion of that moment – and the months following," Chesney said. "There's an acceptance it takes to face those challenges and that uncertainty… the lyric has that line, 'I ride the waves I can't control…' And that's exactly how this was, and in some ways, still is."
  • The song features singer-songwriter Mindy Smith. Her debut album, 2004's One Moment More, was one of Chesney's favorite records in the period that St John became his home away from home.

    "Mindy's voice is so much a part of my life on the islands," he told ABC Radio. "I woke up with her music, drifted across the ocean with her music, watched the sun sink and the stars come out to that voice."

    "When I heard this song," Chesney added, "and thought about what it means, I knew Mindy had to be on here, because she's like an angel, a spirit who lets you know that no matter what, it's going to be okay. That's a very big deal."
  • The song opens up with a guitar part from veteran musician and songwriter Mac MacAnally. Chesney first linked up with MacAnally in 1996 when he covered his 1990 song "Back Where I Come From." A dozen years later, they recorded a duet version of the Mississippi singer-songwriter's 1990 song "Down The Road" and in 2013 they penned together Chesney's Life on a Rock track "Must Be Something I Missed."
  • Chesney told ABC Radio that he'd had the song for a couple years, but didn't feel it fitted on his Cosmic Hallelujah album as it was such a personal journey for the writers. However, when the Virgin Islands were devastated by the hurricanes it suddenly became relevant to his Songs for the Saints record.

    "I felt like when what happened down [on the] island happened," he explained, "when you back away from it, and look at the scope of what happened, this song was so universal in a lot of the emotions and the feelings that everybody was going through."
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