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Brad Paisley wastes his time quite well

By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 2005

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Rogers, 33, met Paisley while both were students at Belmont in Rogers' last semester.

"We met in passing in a hallway at EMI Music where I was working at the time," says Rogers, a Sumter, S.C. native. "He was meeting with somebody, and somebody said (to Brad), 'he goes to Belmont and said he's a songwriter. He goes to Belmont, he's a singer'. That didn't phase me.

"We didn't take it seriously because everybody at Belmont is a singer or songwriter. I saw a showcase that he was playing guitar for a singer. It was a Belmont showcase. He just a) had a presence about him on stage and b) when it came time for him to do a solo, I could tell he was one helluva of a guitar player. I said afterwards, 'we really do have to get together'.

And so they did, critiquing each other's songs "We both like the same exact thing," Rogers says, which led them to want to work together.

"From that point on, we started writing songs (together), and I started engineering and producing all of his demos," Rogers says.

Paisley didn't have to wait long for a job because one week after graduating, he was writing for EMI.

As a songwriter, he would eventually have songs recorded by Tracy Byrd, David Ball and David Kersh.

Paisley inked a record deal with Arista, then under the leadership of Tim DuBois. Paisley insisted that Rogers produce. DuBois gave a tentative go ahead, saying Rogers could produce four songs as a demo and see what developed.

Having an unknown produce a new artist for the first time is practically unheard of. Record companies have too much at stake money-wise and tend to want seasoned veterans at the helm.

"He went to bat for me," says Rogers of Paisley. "I was obviously very grateful that he was fighting for me.

Paisley and Rogers apparently worked some magic together in the studio because Rogers stayed in his role as producer.

And they didn't do badly with the four songs either as three became hits off the debut, "Who Needs Pictures?" - the title track, "Me Neither" and "We Danced.

"Part II" followed in 2001 with hits the very funny "I'm Gonna Miss Her," "Wrapped Around" and "Two People Fell in Love.

And 2003's "Mud on the Tires" contained the humorous, but biting social commentary song, "Celebrity," the title track and "Whiskey Lullaby" as the big hits.

Paisley albums typically have contained a strong sense of humor, but within the same song opinion and sudden twists of fate typically occur. Gospel and instrumentals are part of the musical mix along with honky tonkers, ballads and Paisley's excellent guitar work.

The new song, "Flowers," for example, starts off with Paisley singing about "long stem things of beauty/Created by the good Lord" only to find Paisley asking "Tell me how many flowers have to die/Before you give this love another try.

He also isn't afraid to put his faith in his music with the Parton song and "The Uncloudy Day" on "Time Well Wasted." He previously recorded standards "Farther Along" and "The Old Rugged Cross.

"That's a really big part of country music life and history," says Paisley. "That's pretty much a constant. You never go to the Opry and don't hear gospel before the night is over. This is one way of keeping my foot in the tradition.

And in a rarity for country musicians, he also has another go at an instrumental, "Time Warp," a jazzy piece written with Rogers.

Paisley explains his musical diversity. "I try to do albums who reflect who I am. That's just what I do. I do some songs...that are observational or fictitious. My goal for the most part is to do stuff that I relate to.

"I just don't like singing about one thing," he says. "I never feel one thing in particular all the time. Really. I want people in different stages of life to relate to the record. If you're not in a positive place, then the record's not for you. Life is never one or the other.

"On an album, you try to make something that stands up years later and the only way to do that is cover some bases there hopefully," he says.

Four albums and six years into his recording career, Paisley is not making any assumptions about his good fortune.

"I'm very surprised," he says, referring to his success. "It's just amazing to me to think that it has gone so well. It's not an easy thing for success to continue beyond a song or two. There are so many artists that had a hit or two and had so much potential. Why that happened, I don't know, and why we're still around, I don't know. I don't take it for granted. I try and make an album that's a work of art.

Even if he is trying to waste your time.

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