Remember the Tragic True Story Behind Kenny Chesney’s ‘The Good Stuff’?
Kenny Chesney scored one of the biggest hits of his career with "The Good Stuff," which gave him his fifth No. 1 hit in 2002. The poignant song was inspired by a tragic story that happened in real life.
The song is premised on a man who's had a fight with his wife and goes to a bar, asking the bartender there for "the good stuff." As they talk, the bartender reveals that he lost his wife, advising his customer that "the good stuff" is all of the memories you can make with the one you love while they're still here.
"Spent five years in the bottle / When the cancer took her from me / But I've been sober three years now," the lyric states, explaining that the memory of their good times had pulled him through. Craig Wiseman and Jim Collins co-wrote "The Good Stuff," and Wiseman tells the Boot that it was inspired on the spot from a story they heard from a security guard where they were writing.
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"The security guard where we were writing that day, Rusty Martin, was a friend of ours. He had lost his wife to cancer. In fact, he had moved up [to Nashville] because of that," Wiseman shares. "Jim and I were just about to write another song. We were talking about, what if you just sat there and watched your wife die. We both just sat there and were sort of stunned for a minute. We said, 'OK, let's get a cup of coffee and write a song!'"
Though the song departs from Martin's personal story, Wiseman played it as a courtesy for his friend, who went home and played it for his daughter. Released as the second single from Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems album, the song reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart on July 27, 2002, where it stayed for seven weeks. "The Good Stuff" also topped Billboard's year-end chart of the most popular country songs of 2002. Wiseman rewarded Marton for inspiring the song with a sweet surprise.
"I had gotten in touch with the funeral home where he had buried his wife and had a matching foot stone made for her that was engraved with 'The Good Stuff,'" he relates. "I went and gave it to him at the No. 1 party. Everybody was crying. I always say this song came about because of three long, happy marriages, and two of them are still going."