Brad Paisley knows his way around beautifully poignant songs like “He Didn’t Have to Be,” and “Whiskey Lullaby,” but he also likes those songs about fishing and having fun, country style.
But sooner or later his killer sense of humor has to come out. As good as he is at guitar shredding, that’s how good he is at delivering clever lines — and not just in song lyrics. When people become aware of his comedic side for the first time, they are scratching their heads wondering, “when did this happen?” But those paying close attention have seen it in his music for years. Does “Celebrity” ring any bells?
It all proves that no matter what project Paisley pulls out of his hat, he’s going to give it everything he’s got. And if his heart and his humor aren’t involved, Paisley is likely just to walk away. He knows if he’s not feeling it, chances are his fans aren’t feeling it either, so why bother.
Fans will get a taste of the humor and originality Paisley brings to the table during his upcoming performance at the Laughlin Event Center on Saturday, April 13.
His philosophy and talents have already earned the critically acclaimed singer, songwriter dozens of awards, including three Grammys, two American Music Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards including Entertainer of the Year. He’s been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 2001 — the youngest person to do so at age 28 — and he’s sold over 20 million albums, track downloads and streaming equivalents.
Paisley has written 21 of his 24 No. 1 hits. His 11th studio album, Love and War, which was released in 2017, was his ninth consecutive studio album to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. He set a new record in 2009 for the most consecutive singles (10) reaching the top spot on that chart.
The guy seems to have success at just about everything he does. It all started when he was about 10 years old, living in small-town West Virginia, plunking on a Sears guitar his grandpa gave him. He soon found himself playing at every family event, and then town event, that popped up on the calendar.
“Pretty soon, I was performing at every Christmas party and Mother’s Day event. The neat thing about a small town is that when you want to be an artist, by golly, they’ll make you one,” he said.
Over the years his artistry blossomed and thrived. He has collaborated with numerous artists and songwriters, regardless of genre — but his most constant collaborative partner has been his guitar. His sense of humor is front and center again when teams up with Keith Urban to share guitar skills and laughs for “Start a Band.”
Paisley also has serious chops when it comes to his songwriting ability, ever since he arrived on the music scene in the 1990s.
“I try to write like the writers I admire — I rip them off in form,” he has stated. “It comes from George Strait and Merle Haggard records — and country music in general is really good at that, the twisted phrase... So I’m always looking for that angle in my own work. “I don’t stare at a sheet of paper and try to think of a good word to use. I try to see where the story should go.”
A big part of Paisley’s own story happened on Jamboree USA out of Wheeling, West Virginia. Paisley was in junior high at the time and became a member of the show’s weekly lineup. For about eight years, he opened for country singers such as The Judds, Ricky Skaggs and George Jones. He would go on to become the youngest person inducted into the Jamboree USA Hall of Fame.
But there are many graduates of Jamboree USA who soon went back to tuning up pickups and hauling hay. He attended Belmont University in Nashville instead. Like a lot of singers/stars-in-waiting, he figured it was a good idea to get as close to music as he could, learning all he could, hedging his bets on the path to becoming a singer, majoring in music business while also interning at ASCAP, Atlantic Records and the Fitzgerald-Hartley management firm.
While in college, he networked with fellow students, including Frank Rogers, who went on to serve as his producer, Kelley Lovelace who became his song-writing partner, and Chris DuBois, another song-writing collaborator.
Within a week after graduating from Belmont, Paisley signed a song-writing contract with EMI Music Publishing and wrote David Kersh’s Top 5 hit, “Another You”, as well as co-writing David Ball’s 1999 single, “Watching My Baby Not Come Back.”
But Paisley wanted to get back to the front of the stage. He got that chance in 1999 with Arista Nashville signing him and releasing his, “Who Needs Pictures.”
Things started moving fast at this point. In May of that year, he made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Seven months later, he had his first No. 1 hit with “He Didn’t Have to Be.” Soon to follow, “Me Neither” and his second No. 1 hit, “We Danced,” both in 2000.
Later in 2000, Paisley won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award and the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Male Vocalist trophy. He received his first Grammy Award nomination a year later for Best New Artist.
In 2002, he won the CMA Music Video of the Year for “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song),” from his Part II album. Paisley decided early on to be inclusive with his videos featuring cameos of other celebrities from other creative walks of life. Thus, his videos have included appearances by such artists as Little Jimmy Dickens, William Shatner, Jason Alexander, Rick Shroeder, the late Andy Griffith, Dan Patrick and Jerry Springer.
Paisley released his third album, “Mud on the Tires” (2003), whose title track reached Billboard No. 1 in 2004. In addition, the ninth track from the album, “Whiskey Lullaby,” a haunting duet with Alison Krauss, reached No. 3 on the Billboard country charts. The music video for “Whiskey Lullaby” also won several awards and was rated No. 2 on the 100 Greatest Videos by CMT in 2008. The album was certified double platinum.
Paisley also contributed two original songs to the Disney Pixar’s film Cars. These can be found on the film’s soundtrack. This was in recognition of his contribution to the “Route 66: Main Street America” television special.
In 2016, he was selected as one of 30 artists to perform on “Forever Country,” a mash-up track and video of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” which celebrated 50 years of the CMA Awards.
Playing up his comedic side, “Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo,” debuted on Netflix in August 2017. He served as host for the lineup of talent while performing parodies of his own songs, telling jokes, and interacting with the audience. In many cases, he was funnier than the comedians he was introducing — he is a natural at making people laugh.
He also branched out a bit with the Mailboat Records release “Mark Twain: Words & Music,” a double-CD telling Mark Twain’s life in spoken word and song, one of which was Paisley’s “Huck Finn Blues.” Thus, Paisley got into collaboration with names like Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Buffett, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill and others.
In December 2018, he teamed up with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) to launch a rodeo version video of his single “Bucked Off.” The video premiered during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Kickoff at World Champion Bull Rider Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball, held at the Tropicana Las Vegas.
Most recently, Paisley is releasing “My Miracle,” the ultimate love song with a powerful message he co-wrote with Gary Nicholson in May 2019. This one is a tip of the hat to his wife of 16 years, Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
“I can be a little ornery when it comes to writing love songs,” he said. “I don’t typically put it all out there, but in this one I did. This is the most powerful statement I think I can make. The one I wrote it for, she is my worst critic typically, but in this case, I think I got it right.”