Photo Credit Danny Clinch

They were waiting in New Hampshire, Miami, both Dakotas, Oregon, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Houston, Phoenix and Detroit. They all knew at the stroke of midnight on February 1, “Pirate Flag” – already heralded as the Song of the Week by USA Today, five days before ever being heard – was going to hit the airwaves hard, and they all wanted to be a part of it.

Part of it they were! In a matter of hours, the David Lee Murphy/Ross Copperman song of rebellion right where you are, hit the Top 40, climbing the country charts with abandon. At No Shoes Radio, Chesney’s personal internet radio station, the tune in was so intense, the bandwidth filled to the brink – slowing to a slightly less than optimal speed.

“But we learned from the Tour Announcement on NSR in November,” Chesney says. “We’d broadened the capacity to handle the load, so there was no crashing, and everybody who showed up got their sneak peek of ‘Pirate Flag,’ right before country radio blew it up like only they can!”

Indeed, while the No Shoes Radio station did slow, it never cratered. Ramped up for the big event, they maintained their altitude – and connected fans all the way across Europe with the driving song of eschewing the heaviness of everyday living for mental insurrection right where you are.

“It was crazy,” Chesney laughs. “We were watching the response at ground control, and seeing the fans taking screen shots of the song on our playlists and posting them on Facebook and Twitter. All the crazy things they were setting up to get ready… It was awesome! They didn’t know we were watching, but they sure were in the spirit of the song and the spirit of the No Shoes Nation, a place that has no boundaries and exists solely in your state of mind and a community of like-minded people.

“You never know, even when you think you got something… But, man, when we saw that screen shot from Luxembourg come up, we were all High 5-ing each other, cause that’s the point: bringing people together wherever they may be.”

And somehow, they also managed to sell several hundred actual Pirate Flags in the process. Not that it’s the incorporated flag of the No Shoes Nation; but what better talisman to wave when you’re flexing your subliminal insubordination to a propulsive slice of industrial strength rock-country flecked with tin whistles and mandolin?

“You can’t be a country without a flag,” jokes the 8-time Entertainer of the Year, who kicks off his No Shoes Nation Tour March 16 at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I’m not saying flying the Jolly Roger is for everybody, but I think for my people, it’s the perfect banner to rally under!”