“The Boys of Fall”
A new football season begins Friday with a new anthem, one that is sure to echo through high school stadiums for years to come.
“The Boys of Fall” is the current single by country megastar Kenny Chesney, and it has already struck a chord with current and former high school players and fans of the game in small towns from coast to coast.
Last week, Peter Cooper of The Tennessean in Nashville reported that the song is among the 15 most-played songs on country radio, and it’s sure to be No. 1 on the playlist in locker rooms and on stadium public-address systems beginning Friday night.
The song was written by Dave Turnbull and Casey Beathard, the latter of whom is the son of former NFL general manager Bobby Beathard, who won four Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins. “The Boys of Fall” paints a colorful picture of what it means to play football in a small town, where the game means so much and the world revolves around Friday nights. The players are the kings of their school, a band of brothers who bonded in practices under the hot summer sun and who forever have each other’s backs as a result.
In an interview with theboot.com, Beathard said, “It was not so much about football as much as we were talking about life. I always coordinate football with life anyway — leaning on each other and all that stuff you face in life. There’s not a small town — or any town — in this country that doesn’t get it. This is where football came from. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a big song about football until now.
Chesney apparently jumped at the chance to record the song when it was pitched to him, and he made it the first single from his upcoming “Hemingway’s Whiskey” album. He has made a pretty good living over the years singing about better days gone by (“I Go Back” and “Young,” for example), and even though I consider myself well-versed in both kinds of music — country and western — I’m not his biggest fan. In some ways “The Boys of Fall” isn’t much different from his other nostaglic tunes, but the lyrics of this song are mostly strong, the deliver is good, and it’s easy to see why it will resonate with young and old men who have played high school football — and even with those of us on the fringes of the game.
Chesney, who played wide receiver for his high school in east Tennessee, loves him some football, and this isn’t his first song about the high school game. He recorded “Never Gonna Feel That Way Again” on the 2002 album “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem,” though I must admit I haven’t heard that song, which wasn’t released as a single.
This song is a bona fide hit, soaring up the charts and being downloaded and record rates. There is an eight-minute video featuring Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, as well as other recognizable gridiron legends from John Madden and Joe Namath to Paul “Bear” Bryant and Steve Spurrier. And soon there will be a Chesney-produced documentary that he told CMT.com will be about the lessons learned from high school football.
But while “The Boys of Fall” will fade out of radio rotation within a few weeks, those of who populate the stadiums on Friday nights are sure to hear it throughout this season and seasons to come until we’re good and sick of it. Every team will play it as “their song,” not realizing that almost every other team is doing the same thing. So I’m asking for is a little moderation. It’s a good song about a game that hasn’t been the subject of many songs, but like a good play, it can be called too many times; here’s hoping we don’t run it until isn’t effective any more.