Some time ago TSO waxed enthusiastic about how much he liked Brad Paisley. The hit making the rounds then (and now) was "Alcohol," a song which while interesting failed to provoke interest for me. However, when I discovered that he was also the artist behind "Mud on the Tires," I knew that I needed to give more attention.
I got from the library Mr. Paisley's first album and I have to say that I was really wowed by it. What struck me first of all is the depth of humor in many of the songs. By that I mean that most country songs that are humorous are humorous because of a "catch line." Take for example Toby Keith's current hit "I Ain't As Good as I Once Was." The "humor" in the song depends upon the bending of the phrase "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." Okay, amusing for the first thirty-thousand times you hear it, but not much depth there.
On the other hand, the depth of humor in Mr. Paisley's work is impressive. From the first song, "The Long Sermon" in which we learn that "Nothing tests your faith like a long sermon on a pretty Sunday." To "Me Neither" in which our singer goes to embarrassing lengths to pick up a woman in a bar, using all of his lines and ultimately running out--into another thing that I think really makes the album for me--a relatively long instrumental. Honestly, I don't hear nearly enough of it in Country Music--figured it was a genre thing. But there's a long instrumental tag at the end of this song after he asks the girl he's talking to whether she thinks he ought to end his song, and he answers, "Me neither. . ."
Later there's a completely instrumental track titled "The Nervous Breakdown" and it's tremendous fun--unlike anything I've heard in this genre and most reminiscent of something like "Frankenstein."
In addition to humor, there appears to be enormous depth to Mr. Paisley's work. The usual songs of lost love becomes "Who Needs Pictures." And, there simply isn't anything to compare with "He Didn't Have to Be."
Now I know writing this is like preaching to the choir. If you like country music, you'll already have an opinion. If you don't like country music, you aren't even going to listen to this. So why bother?
I think because of this in the liner notes:
Finally, thanks be to God, for the gift of music and countless blessings. I hope only to do your will and be the person you wnat me to be. I can't do this without you. Thank for my life.
Now, you can't say an artist is great on sentiments like that. But sentiments like that are more likely to make me think the artist great because he recognizes the source of all art.
There are some artists I endure who, in spite of themselves, give me a glimpse of glory beyond them through there performances--Johnny Depp comes to mind. But what a pleasure it is to like an artist with whose sentiments I heartily concur.
And that may be another reason why I've recently turned to country music. I'm simply impressed with the number of artists who include God and Country in song. I'm tired of the relentless tearing down of our great nation and our even greater Lord and Savior. Much of country music offers at lest momentary respite from all of that.
Right now, all of Mr. Paisley's albums sit in my Amazon Wish List.
(Oh, and he not only has an advertisement for the Second Harvest National Foodbank Network, but he sang the version of "In the Garden" that reminded me of what I heard the first time I heard it.)