Brad Paisley and Chris DuBois were young college interns in the late 1990s when they first met at Nashville’s ASCAP headquarters. On Tuesday (March 29), they returned there to celebrate the recent No. 1 success of their song, “Mud on the Tires,” which also happens to be the title cut of Paisley’s current album.
Guests arriving at the party were greeted by a life-size cardboard cutout of Paisley, surrounded by — what else? — a pile of old muddied tires. The motif was repeated inside, although here the tires were plastic blowup models instead of the real thing.
Paisley strolled in a half-hour late for the pre-party press conference. “A cow got out,” he offered, explaining an incident at his farm. He told reporters he is looking forward to his Two Hats and a Redhead tour with Reba McEntire and Terri Clark and promised there would be some surprise guest appearances along the way. He added that he and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have become friends with McEntire and her husband/manager, Narvel Blackstock.
“Mud on the Tires,” Paisley said, was around for nearly five years before he and DuBois completed it for him to record.
“We sat down wanting to write something that felt not only like summertime but also the great outdoors,” he recalled. “We always loved old Alabama songs [of this type].”
Asked about the appeal of “Whiskey Lullaby,” his hit single with Alison Krauss, Paisley said that one of the reasons he liked the song was that it “really reminded me of older country music.” He pointed to the stripped-down acoustic instrumentation and the emphasis on the lyrics and vocals in his recorded version. Moreover, he added, the song demonstrated that its co-writer, Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson, “is one of our national treasures as a songwriter. … You’re talking about somebody in his 60s who’s writing better than ever.”
Of the music video for “Whiskey Lullaby,” which actor Rick Schroder directed and starred in, Paisley observed, “This is a guy who believes in making art. You don’t want to think [in making videos] what’s the best way to sell albums.”
Paisley said his Mud and Suds tour with Sara Evans and Andy Griggs was “the most fun I’ve ever had — and I’m not just making that up. … Everything about it felt like we were creating something special every night.”
ASCAP’s Connie Bradley, who presided over the awards portion of the party, pointed out that “Mud on the Tires” is DuBois’ third and Paisley’s fourth self-penned No. 1 and added that the album now stands at “double platinum” (meaning that 2 million copies have been ordered by record stores).
“I met Chris on the third floor of this building,” Paisley reminisced, noting that he came to ASCAP a month before DuBois did and therefore felt a certain sense of seniority. Nonetheless, he showed DuBois the songs he was writing and asked for his opinions on them.
“He had so many changes every time I brought a song to him,” Paisley continued. “He sat there with a red pencil and marked out everything. I finally said, ’Why don’t you just write with me?'”