"It's been 20 years since 'Party Crowd' and 'Dust on the Bottle,' so it's about time," says Chesney of working on David Lee Murphy's new album

By Danielle Anderson
Updated April 30, 2015 05:30 PM
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Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty

When Kenny Chesney recently took the stage to accept BMI awards for his two back-to-back No. 1 songs “American Kids” and “Til It’s Gone,” he surprised everyone with an unscheduled announcement about a new project he’s been working on: He’s putting the finishing touches on an album for legendary Nashville songwriter David Lee Murphy.

Murphy penned Chesney’s hits “Pirate Flag,” “Livin’ In Fast Forward,” “Never Wanted Nothin’ More,” and “‘Til It’s Gone” and made a couple of hits of his own two decades ago with “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle.”

“David Lee is the original – and last of – the hillbilly rock stars,” Chesney, who’s currently on The Big Revival tour, said at the bash. “And it’s been 20 since ‘Party Crowd’ and ‘Dust on the Bottle,’ so it’s about time!”

Chesney, who serves as co-producer on the album titled No Zip Code and sings on the title track, also chatted with PEOPLE about his history with Murphy.

“I met David Lee when I was a young writer, I think I was just playing crummy bars on Lower Broad long before it was cool,” says Chesney. “He already had a lot going on, but he’d talk to you like you were doing it, too. He was pretty laid back about the success and the business, but he knew how to work.

“I’d listen to him and think, ‘That ole boy’s got it figured out.’ His songs really felt like people lived, and I loved that – how real and honest and simple they were.

No label has been announced for the project yet, so stay tuned for more details on No Zip Code.