By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 2003
his deep into his career, Brad Paisley probably could be accused of having a little mud on the tires.
Not only is that the title of his third album - and his first to hit the top of the charts - but maybe it was his experience that enabled Paisley to finish the recording quickly.
"With this one, we were trying to get it done more than anything," says Paisley in a phone interview from eastern Tennessee, explaining his goals for the album. "I think what probably shaped what became of this album more than anything is that we didn't have as much time to do it as others. It didn't mean we weren't prepared. We just didn't have time. I had been touring so much. I didn't have the kind of luxury of a year off and on time that I had on the first two albums. This time, we crammed it into a few months really. That's not a long time."
But having less time didn't mean there was less creativity or the opportunity to do things differently.
"It definitely changed in the sound of it in a good way I think," says Paisley. "What I ended up doing is playing a lot more unique stuff on the guitar than I had played on the last albums because I didn't have time to scope it as much. Vocally, you kind of get a sense of who I am in a spontaneous sense. The band sounds fresher and live. This is a bigger conglomeration of my band than on the first two albums. This is mostly them with additional musicians that made sense. None of it is having to replace a band member or anything like that. These guys are really good in the studio."
In other words, once again producer and long-time friend Frank Rogers did not overproduce or make it sound oh so perfect to get rid of Paisley's musical personality.
Paisley also extends credit to Justin Niebank, who mixed the album.
"A lot of it comes down to how it's mixed this time...He's very good at customizing an album to however you want...I like what he does with my music more than any one else. He made it pop more. My vocals are way out there. It just feels like it's got a lot more punch to it. I'm there a lot when we're mixing. I have to be there on every there on any day when there's a really important guitar song. I don't care what he does with my voice. I don't care if he makes me sound like from the Sound of Music."
The disc contains a very hefty 17 songs, including a few dealing with the problems of being a celebrity, honky tonkers, two instrumentals and a gospel song.
In other words, Paisley, who just grabbed three Country Music Association Awards nominations, mixes it up like usual.
"Celebrity" was the first single and a big hit for the West Virginian off the bat.
The song comes off as being quite humorous, and a video featuring Little Jimmy Dickens did not hurt either.
But there is a lot of meat on this hoof as Paisley's lyrics indicate:
"Someday I'm gonna be famous, do I have talent, well no
These days you don't really need it thanks to reality shows
Can't wait to date a supermodel, can't wait to sue my dad
Can't wait to wreck a Ferrari on my way to rehab
'Cause when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality
You can act just like a fool
People think you're cool
Just 'cause you're on TV"
Paisley says the idea for the song initially came from driving around Nashville. He saw a bumper sticker that said "celebrity in training."
"I said to myself 'I wonder what reality show they're auditioning for.' The concept for the song evolved especially because of celebrity in general. I didn't even have it dealing with reality shows at first. I think it started with second half of the first verse first. I was writing the song based on that. And the concept of the ridiculous things that celebrities do and how I'd like to be a celebrity because you pretty much get away with anything. You can get married for a month. There's nothing strange about that."
"I wanted to write something that was a tongue in cheek, but not look corny. Mostly what I wanted was to make the concept something fun. It needed to be fun. It didn't need to be the way Joan Baez would have sung about celebrity. It needed to be almost that Joe Walsh approach to it, that sort of funny (approach). It's fun to sing about celebrity problems because a lot of their problems are the kind of things all of us would love to have, myself included even though I'm a semi celebrity."
Despite the negative view depicted in the song of over-the-top mucky mucks, Paisley says he finds these types of people interesting. He has apparently observed more than he used to since he married actress Kimberly Williams and spends a chunk of time in Los Angeles as well as Nashville.
"I'm not offended by it, by people acting the way they do in a song. I find it fascinating, exciting, and I'm really glad they exist. It's lot more fun to have a world (with) weirdness. I don't want to eradicate that kind of behavior. We need more of it. More of it. Come on. We make them that way."