Edited by Dan Harr
Recently, Brad Paisley, along with songwriters Kelley Lovelace (ASCAP and Lee Thomas Miller (BMI), celebrated the chart-topping success of “The World” at Nashville’s Adventure Science Center. On hand were music industry execs and well-wishers to participate in the celebration. While there, Brad sat down with reporters and talked about the song, his next tour, and practical jokes exchanged with Sara Evans.
Would you tell us about that the evolution of this song, the background of it and the inspiration behind it?
Brad – Well, it started a few years ago, at the charity event I go to up in Minnesota – The Shawn Podine Foundation. Shawn’s a hockey player and a friend of mine, and holds a benefit for a disease called Ataxia that affects children. Every year, one of the children’s mothers gets up and speaks about the things these kids go through. Last year, the speaker was talking about how the kids really look forward to the event each year, about how it’s getting together with all these other kids from around the country. Celebrities come in and hang out with the kids, and the kids have a couple of days where they get to forget about their problems. At one point, she said, “You know, the rest of you guys that put this thing on, you may feel like you don’t matter, but to us, the kids, you are the world.”
As soon as she said that, I thought, “Man, that’d be a good song.” I started to write it and went to my friend Kelley Loveless, who’s a co-writer with me on a lot of stuff. We were sitting down to write for the first time on what would become the “Time Well Wasted” album. I told Kelley that I had an idea for one and how it had a good groove. When he heard it, he told me he and Lee Miller had a similar idea going on. When I said we should pass on doing the song then, he told me they didn’t like the way their song had been going and would love to try something different.
We took their song and cleaned it up, working on the verses and adding the things I had for it. It was a lot harder to write than you might think. Every example needed to be universal, something simple that everyone could relate to. Like say the teller at the bank, airport ticket-counter, the beauty-shop. Things like that are all instances where you may have these feelings.- you know-especially at an airport ticket-counter these days. I mean, if they don’t make you feel like you’re not important, I don’t know who does. So, that’s how it evolved.
Your next big project coming out is a Christmas album. There’s a song on there that you wrote when you were twelve years old, right
Brad – Yes
Did working on the project take you to your childhood?
Brad – Without a doubt, especially because we used the recording of the first time I was ever on the radio on that record. I was 13, and asked to sing on the Jamboree, so I went and sang there. It was my first time ever on a radio station. It was a very interesting recording because I was 13 and moments away from my voice changing. I think it changed three days later; but it’s really a high-pitched, squeally little voice you hear on that first recording.
And the whole first verse of the record that we cut is from that show – it’s me being introduced. I talked about the song, then played it. I come in, present day, on the second verse and take over. Then it changes keys and the band comes in and they play along with the track. It was just me and an acoustic guitar then. And it was out of tune and we had to tune a half-step down because I didn’t have a tuner then, at that age. Anyway, we got it all like we wanted it, so it was a really magical moment because you hear that voice that was me back then, and then hearing who I am now. It chokes me up, because nothing hits you as an accomplishment until you put it up against how far you’ve come. It’s really a reminder for me.
You’re re-launching your tour later this month, and we’re wondering if there any major changes in this last leg coming up? Also, what are you planning for 2007?
Brad – Well, as far as changes go, we’ve added a lot, upped the production, changed the set list around quite a bit, adding songs. I’ve also contacted Carrie Underwood to see if she can do part of the tour with me. She’s expressed interest in doing that, which is great. I’m also redoing the cartoon a little bit…you know, the little tweaks here and there to make it a different show
Is there an album in your collection that maybe you’ve held up as a standard, thinking to yourself, “Someday I want to make an album just like this?”
Brad – Well, there’s a few like that. One is ‘Killin’ Time’ by Clint Black. Another one would be ‘Alot About Livin and A Little About Love’ by Allan Jackson. And those are more contemporary examples than some of my other favorites, like ‘Storms Of Life’ and ‘Live From Carnegie Hall’ by Buck Owens. I listen to those records, and I do some research into why I like them. It’s like a cheat sheet – findout out what it is about those albums that I like, how I might be able to recreate that feeling while doing something different. I look at these other albums that are the benchmark, and try to capture the heart of why they were so important in my life. A lot of it had to do with just the fact that there was a song or a couple of songs, or something on there that made me feel like that singer was telling my story.
Not long ago, you also had a number one hit with “When I Get Where I’m Going.” On this project, you were also a co-writer. Statistically, back-to-back #1 singles is unusual. Does this one feel any different to you being a co-writer on the project?
Brad – As I said, this was the first thing I tried to write for this record and to have it go number one is important for me. For me, this song was all about a couple of things, and one was capturing the emotion of making a person feel like they had somebody out there who felt that they were everything. The second thing was a groove. I wanted it to feel as good as the lyrics should make the person feel. Marrying the music to the lyric is an important thing and this was all about guitar for me, this song
Let’s talk about the video – what do you remember most about the filming of the video for this song?
Brad – The little girls in the video. They were a lot of fun and it was a joy to work with them . One little girl was 6, I think – the one who played the part of the girl who gets picked on. She’s just as cute as can be and really talented. To have the kind of mental discipline it takes to be able to be able to spend a whole day on a set and not totally lose control… Just to get kids to pay attention for more than 45 minutes to anything can be really hard to do. She’s a pro.
I’m really glad we did the concept the way we did. It was a unique way to illustrate the point. To take this girl, to have her get picked on and then have her with the magic jewelry box that kind of transports her to another dimension where a concert is waiting and she gets a cowboy hat… to me it was just a grander way of saying, “Sometimes you really do matter to somebody, when you don’t feel like you do.”
Can you touch on your participation in the Barbara Mandrell tribute album?
BRAD – When I was little, Saturday nights for me consisted of usually getting babysat by my Grandma and Grandpa. When I went to their house, we would watch Hee Haw and then Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. That was a big deal, back then. Some of the humor was so corny, but it was so entertaining. I’m proud to be a part of the Barbara tribute. When you’re talking about Barbara, you’re talking about the face of country music in the 80’s. Between her, Roy Clark and Buck Owens, those are the people who influenced country music. Barbara was the Reba of her era, the Loretta Lynn of her era. I’m proud to be a part of it, and she’s a very nice lady and truly important.”
You’re going to the CMA awards with the most nominations, along with Brooks and Dunn. Could you comment on the nomination for Entertainer Of The Year?
BRAD – The Entertainer Of The Year nomination is really a case where it’s just nice to be nominated. I feel like this year it’d be too early in my career to win that award and not necessarily fair to some of the other people who’ve been around longer. But to be in that category-to be one of those five people, is truly an honor and something that I’ve worked very hard to try and achieve. We’ve upped our production, we’ve spent a lot of money making this show something that’s worth paying for and getting people out and givin’ ’em their money’s worth every night. That’s the most important thing for me – the people, and making sure they go home happy after a concert. I really want that.
Brad, your good friend, Sarah Evans is competing tonight on ‘Dancing With The Stars. Have you talked to her recently or seen any of the rehearsing for her dancing?
BRAD – I haven’t talked to her since our last gig, which was a couple of months ago. It ended badly. We played some really bad jokes on her. I took some pictures of her and used Photoshop to make her look pretty bad, giving her all kinds of problems with her face and introduced her with those photographs being shown. We sent out half-naked guys on the stage during her performance, had pictures of broken limbs shown on the screen behind her during “Could Not Ask For More.” During “Real Fine Place To Start,” we had a bunch of people that went up on stage and formed a rehab circle and held up signs saying “A Real Fine Place To Start,” “Opening For Brad Paisley,” “ProTools” and things like that. One right after another.
She got back at me, though, better than anybody ever has. She came out with her “baby with a full diaper,” laid it on the stage and changed it right by my mic stand during the performance. I’m singin’ and there’s this baby layin’ there, in a squashed puddle of its own… UGH (Laughter) Actually, I found out later it was only coffee grounds. But it looked real. She changed the diaper right there, which was great. That was just one of the best things anyone has ever done to get back at me. But, no… I haven’t talked to her lately. I am excited to see her on the Dancing With The Stars show. It’ll be fun. I didn’t know she could dance at all.
A quick thought about having an awards ceremony, here, at the Adventure Science Center. It’s really cool. How did that idea come about? Are you a regular here?
BRAD – I’ve never been here. But, when we were talkin’ about having a party for this song, I said, “Can we do somethin’ different? We always do the same thing. Can we find something that has something to do with planets? Because of the title, ‘The World’?” So we started lookin’ around at planetariums, and this place was available. It’s great. I said, “Tell everybody to invite kids; ’cause this is a kids’ place.” Let’s make it more fun.
Editor’s note: Fun, it was. The Adventure Science Center staff prepared a presentation in the planetarium using Brad’s song, “The World,” and flashing images through the galaxies above. Music News Nashville would encourage anyone with kids to take a day and spend it at the Nashville Adventure Science Center. There is so much to see, so many hands-on things to do, your kids will love it.
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