April 3, 2004, was a pivotal moment for both Uncle Kracker and Kenny Chesney. On this day, 17 years ago, their duet “When the Sun Goes Down” reached the top of the charts. The record acted as the title track of Chesney’s seventh studio album and his seventh track that claimed a No. 1 spot. As for Uncle Kracker, it marked a new era for his career in country music.
With lyrics like, “‘Cause when the sun goes down we’ll be groovin’/ When the sun goes down we’ll be feelin’ alright/ When the sun sinks down over the water/ Everything gets hotter when the sun goes down,” it’s impossible not to sing along.
With its use of steel drums, electric guitar, and country twang, it’s reminiscent of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” era that many artists tried to emulate. After the duo released the song, they hit the road the following year on Kenny Chesney’s Somewhere in the Sun Tour, which also featured Gretchen Wilson and Pat Green.
Uncle Kracker Enters Country Music Alongside Kenny Chesney
Even though this marked Kracker’s first real foray into the country music genre, he admitted he had difficulty seeing himself thriving in country music.
“I had always thought about country, but it’s a very tricky thing,” Kracker told The Boot in 2018. “I remember entertaining the idea of dabbling around with the country stuff after the Chesney thing, and I thought, you know what, I’ve seen so many guys come through and try to do country records and just jump on the country bandwagon without giving it the respect it deserves.”
After scoring a No. 1 hit alongside Kenny Chesney on “When the Sun Goes Down,” Uncle Kracker would go on to release his 2009 smash hit “Smile” from Happy Hour. The song soon became a multi-platinum hit and became a crossover success. It hit the Top 10 on both the country and pop charts. Later, he followed it up with a duet with Kid Rock, titled “Good to Be Me,” which also reached the Top 30 on both the country and pop charts.
“And I said to myself, if I ever did something like that, you always have to pay respect to the people you need to pay respect to, not just in country music but in life,” Kracker continued. “And I’ve always been a firm believer that with just the right idea, maybe further down the road I’ll get there the right way.”