By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 2003
The album closes with the traditional gospel song "Farther Along."
On Paisley's last album, he recorded "The Old Rugged Cross."
"It's extremely important to me," says Paisley of religion. "Not to say I'm pious by any means. I was raised to go to church on Sunday. I try to make church now and then, but it's hard. It's important to me. I have a family that has based its faith in one place...I have a great wife who feels the same way I do. I have parents who are healthy. Religion is what (gets) me through a lot of stuff. It also helps in a career where superficiality becomes way more important then it ought to be."
"To someone who lives a normal life, they could care less where my song is on the charts. Sometimes in this business, that can become as important as anything. A little bit of faith helps when you don't have a number one record," he says jokingly.
Country has been part of Paisley's life since his upbringing in Glen Dale, West Virginia, near Wheeling.
Paisley was first introduced to country by his late grandfather Warren Jarvis. "He played a little pretty well. He was a connoisseur. He had Buck Owens albums and the Floyd Cramer albums. Anything that's advertised late on a Saturday night. Roy Clark. You name it. Anne Murray. I don't know if he liked Anne Murray. My parents liked Anne Murray."
Paisley managed to get gigs at the Wheeling Jamboree, where performances were held Saturday nights. "I wrote a song when I was 12. It was a Christmas song, 'Born on Christmas Day.' The program director heard me at a rotary club luncheon and asked me to come and play. That was a great break for me. I think I played every couple of weeks, and if I didn't play, I'd go and watch."
Paisley started college at West Liberty State in West Virginia, but transferred to Belmont in Nashville where he was a music business major. That's also where he met Frank Rogers.
He was fortunate enough to get a writing job one week after he graduated. He also was interested in developing his own career, focusing on Arista because he liked the artists they had like Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn.
Paisley did eventually sign with Arista and did things a bit differently. Usually an artist will be grouped with an experienced producer. Rogers had never produced an album.
"There was no reason why on earth they could not have paired him up with somebody else," says Paisley. " He proved himself very quickly where they didn't pair him up. (The label) said, 'produce him."
Arista's fine with that. It's not an issue."
"Some labels are run by producers and definitely feel an obligation to be involved in every project," he says. "They were very open to new people. It's really important to me. I wanted my records to sounds a little bit different and be done a little different."
It probably didn't hurt that Paisley had success out of the box with "Who Needs Pictures," the title track of his debut with a slip piano sound.
He hit the top next time around with the touching "He Didn't Have to Be," about the relationship of a kid with his stepfather. The success continued with "Me Neither" and "We Danced," another number one.
"Part II" came out in 2001 with more hits like "Two People Fell in Love" and "Wrapped Around."
Not to mention the humorous "I'm Gonna Miss Her," where the guy picks fishing over his girl.
He engaged in high profile tours like the Neon Circus show with Brooks & Dunn and developed a reputation as a fine guitarist as well.
While this all may be part and parcel of Paisley's life, it wasn't for his wife, an actress in the television show "According to Jim" with Jim Belushi.
"A lot of people out there that aren't in the rural areas and don't know they would like country music, if they like The Eagles, the Beatles, they're going to dig what's on our radio waves these days."
His wife wasn't exactly a country aficionado. "Not at all," says Paisley. "She didn't know who anybody was. I'd taken her to really meet really important people. She's never understood who they were until later. She didn't know who George Jones was. It was like being born in a foreign country."
With the success that he has enjoyed, Paisley feels "Mud on the Tires" is an appropriate title.
"That reflected best my state at this point, where I'm at, how I'm feeling," Paisley says. "The song 'Mud on the Tires' and the concept for that came as looking for an overview of a lot of the songs on this record. There's a whole lot of stuff that's a little bit dirty. Realistic I guess is the word I'd use. Like anything, it's not pristine. It felt like 'Mud' really fit everything that I'm up to."
And with the maturing process, Paisley knows when to call it a day. The recording of "Make a Mistake" was the first time that they ran through the song in the studio.
"We knew we had it," says Paisley. "It felt like it should. It's a jazz thing, a swing thing. It didn't need to sound like we sat down and painstakingly (worked it out). We had to overdub certain things. It exists as it did for the most part."
"That's another thing you learn by the time you're on your third album. You learn how to accept stuff and not second guess. Is that good enough? Should I accept it? That'll do. Just all the time. Things with my vocals. Frank used to be a slave driver in the studio with me. Maybe I sing a little better. Maybe he's got a clearer idea of when I'm singing better."