One of the first concerts Brad Paisley witnessed in Wheeling, WV (near his hometown of Glen Dale, WV) was Alabama. While most country acts played the 2,500-seat Capitol Theatre, Alabama played the civic center, which held three times as many people. “I remember thinking as their five or six buses rolled in, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is that?’” Brad said in an interview with Associated Press. “It was huge. They set the industry on its ear that way. Nobody had ever done what they did.”
Fast forward several years to Brad sitting in a recording studio with his telecaster guitar, trying to mimic the sound Alabama’s Randy Owen made on songs like “Mountain Music,” much as he had done when he was cutting his teeth in bars. Randy walked in with his old Music Man guitar and from there, the opening bars of Brad’s latest hit, “Old Alabama,” were created. Randy later passed Brad the guitar to examine. “It was really interesting to see the smile on Brad’s face,” Randy said. “He was like, ‘That’s the guitar.’”
When working on material for his new album, This Is Country Music, Brad drew on his Alabama influences, but wanted to put his own stamp on what his definition of today’s country music is. He did that by writing about everything from toothbrushes to childhood cancer and including it on the album.
“I just realized there’s nothing off-limits as far as topics go in country music,” Brad said. “Nothing’s too small in your life to write about. From a toothbrush to spiritual questions to difficulty, drinking, cheating — those are bigger things — sunbathing, you know what I mean? Nothing’s off-limits. We say that very clearly in our music.”