Down the Road (Mac McAnally song)

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"Down the Road"
Single by Mac McAnally
from the album Simple Life
B-side "She's Going Out of My Mind"[1]
Released June 1990
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 2:42
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Mac McAnally
Producer(s) Jim Ed Norman
Mac McAnally
Mac McAnally singles chronology
"Back Where I Come From"
"Down the Road"
"Live and Learn"

"Down the Road" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Mac McAnally. McAnally has charted with the song on two separate occasions. The first of these two versions was released as the second single from his 1990 album Simple Life, and was a minor chart single for him that year. Eighteen years later, McAnally re-recorded the song as a duet with Kenny Chesney on Chesney's 2008 album Lucky Old Sun. This rendition is also McAnally's highest charting country hit, having reached Number One in February 2009.


"Down the Road" is a mid-tempo ballad. In it, the male narrator describes his childhood love interest — a girl who lives down the road from him. Eventually, the narrator proposes to marry her, only to find out the expectations her parents have of him.

In the second verse, the narrator is now an adult, and his daughter has a love interest who lives down the road. He then explains that he has the same expectations that the parents in the first verse had, but he will still let her go down the road.

According to Country Weekly magazine, McAnally was inspired to write the song one Christmas morning after thinking about what his two daughters' lives would be like in the future (he has since had a third).[2]

Mac McAnally version[edit]

Mac McAnally's original version is the second single from his 1990 album Simple Life, his only album for Warner Bros. Records. It debuted at number 72 on the Billboard country charts for the week of July 7, 1990, fell to number 75 a week later, and then reached its peak of number 70 on the chart week of July 21. McAnally also re-recorded this song for his 1994 album Knots, which was subsequently sent to radio as a promotional single.

Music video[edit]

McAnally's rendition also features a music video, directed by John Lloyd Miller. It features McAnally performing the song on a porch while playing electric guitar.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[3] 73
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[4] 70

Kenny Chesney version[edit]

"Down the Road"
Single by Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally
from the album Lucky Old Sun
Released November 10, 2008 (2008-11-10)
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 2:59
Label Blue Chair/BNA
Producer(s) Buddy Cannon
Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney singles chronology
"Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven"
"Down the Road"
"Out Last Night"
Mac McAnally singles chronology
"Not That Long Ago"
"Down the Road"
"You First"

In 2008, Kenny Chesney covered the song on his album Lucky Old Sun. Chesney's version features guest vocals from McAnally, who sings the second verse and chorus. Unlike McAnally's original which is accompanied by electric guitar, Chesney's rendition is more acoustic in nature, featuring only accompaniment from two steel-string acoustic guitars and congas. According to McAnally, the song "was not supposed to be a duet", but he agreed to record it as a duet on Chesney's album.[2] Chesney and McAnally were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals on December 2, 2009.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Chesney's rendition received a thumbs-up rating from The 9513. Critic Jim Malec said that the song "provid[ed] him a comfortable pocket from which he can weave a tale" and added, "'Down The Road' brings together the best of Chesney with the best of McAnally, a songwriter whose greatest strength is his ability to breath [sic] life into characters that seem unquestionably real, and which help us discuss life’s essential and often bittersweet truths." He also said that it was Chesney's "best vocal performance in years".[6] Jacob Crogie of 411 Mania gave the Chesney version a four-out-of-five rating, saying "This re-recording is a classic example of good country! It's got some solid musicality and is acoustic based to suit the subject matter. McAnally's writing provides solid, believable, sympathetic characters which allows the listener to connect to the song emotionally."[7]

Chart positions[edit]

The Kenny Chesney version of the song made its chart debut at number 59 on the country charts dated for November 1, 2008. It fell from the charts the next week, then re-entered at number 38 for the week of November 15. It is McAnally's second Top 40 country chart entry, eighteen years after his previous one, the number 14 "Back Where I Come From" in 1990. The duet version reached Number One on the country chart dated for February 28, 2009, giving Chesney his sixteenth Number One and McAnally his first.

Chart (2008-2009) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[8] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 47
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[10] 57

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
US Country Songs (Billboard)[11] 30
Preceded by
"Feel That Fire"
by Dierks Bentley
Billboard Hot Country Songs
number-one single

February 28, 2009
Succeeded by
"God Love Her"
by Toby Keith

Other versions[edit]

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered the song on their 1998 album Bang Bang Bang, as did Restless Heart on their 2004 album Still Restless and Marty Raybon on his 2006 album When the Sand Runs Out. Dennis Agajanian also covered this song on his album Come On Home. The song served as the title track for Chris Golden's second solo album.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 261. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ a b Conaway, Alanna (2009-04-20). "Story Behind the Song: The Gift of Christmas Past". Country Weekly 16 (10): 28. 
  3. ^ "RPM Country Tracks." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 4, 1990. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "Mac McAnally Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Mac McAnally.
  5. ^ "The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards Nominees List",, December 2, 2009
  6. ^ Malec, Jim (2008-11-04). "Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally - "Down the Road"". The 9513. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  7. ^ Crogie, Jacob (2008-12-10). "The Singles Guy 12.10.08: I'm Bored, I'm Bored, Come On Let's Get High!". 411 Mania. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  8. ^ "Kenny Chesney Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Kenny Chesney.
  9. ^ "Kenny Chesney Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Kenny Chesney.
  10. ^ "Kenny Chesney Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Kenny Chesney.
  11. ^ "Best of 2009: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2009.