HOT DISH: Brad Paisley Builds a Better “World”

Hank Jr. in New York, Country Couples Visit Nashville's New Symphony Center

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

When Brad Paisley met with songwriting pal Kelley Lovelace and suggested they write a song about the world, he found out Lovelace and another songwriting buddy, Lee Thomas Miller, had already written a similar song they weren’t happy with. Shoot, Paisley said, call him in to write with us. He did, and the resulting song — “The World” — spent three weeks at No. 1.

Keep in mind, Paisley and Lovelace, who co-wrote the Paisley smash, “He Didn’t Have to Be,” could have written another song titled “The World,” leaving Miller out of the picture, but they didn’t because it wouldn’t be right. Proving that good things come to good people, the same week Paisley’s recording of “The World” hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart, another song Lovelace co-wrote — Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” — topped the Radio & Records chart. This is the first time in history two different songs by the same songwriter topped two charts simultaneously according to Gary Overton, the boss man at EMI Music Publishing in Nashville.

But where is Miller in this “good things come to good people” puzzle? Well, this past week, friends and family helped Paisley, Lovelace and Miller celebrate the success of “The World.” The very same week, Steve Holy hit No. 1 with his latest single, “Brand New Girlfriend.” Holy’s record producer happens to be none other than Lee Thomas Miller!

The crazy idea to have Paisley’s No. 1 party at the Adventure Science Center came from managers Larry Fitzgerald and Bill Simmons. But it turned out to be a great plan, as I learned when I saw the crowd’s reaction to the planetarium’s overhead visual display of stars — and a cow, an ice cream cone and an E.T.-looking alien. When the overhead world began to spin, it was surreal. A fourth of the audience members were kids who loved the display as much as the adults did.

Miller and his lovely wife have four children — and a huge sense of humor. Remember the line in the song about the dip of ice cream? Mama Miller had dressed the kids in T-shirts printed with Dip One (for the eldest), Dip Two, Dip Three and, for the baby, Dip Four.

Imus and Bocephus
Thank God for Don Imus, who keeps country music flowing in New York City on his Imus in the Morning radio show on WFAN-AM and throughout the nation on MSNBC. On Wednesday (Sept. 13), a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Hank Williams Jr. made a guest appearance on the show. And he was, well, Hank at his best.

Imus noted that Hank Jr. could have turned out like other kids with famous dads and pointed out Frank Sinatra Jr. as an example. Hank Jr. wrote great songs, recorded great music and made a name for himself. Hank Jr. respected his daddy, but he did not lean on his daddy totally like so many children of famous parents are prone to do.

Garth and Trisha, Vince and Amy at Symphony Gala
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and another famous country couple, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, were among the VIPs attending the Sept. 9 grand opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. The ladies wore designer gowns, and although the guys donned tuxes, Garth wore his usual black jeans with a cowboy belt buckle.

The following night, Grant headlined a sold-out concert with a list of guests including her hubby, LeAnn Rimes and Michael W. Smith. At the show, Amy got a huge surprise when she learned the concert hall’s stage was being named the Amy Grant Performance Platform. Classical music lovers have not forgotten it was Amy who refused to allow the symphony to die when it faced dire financial times in the ’80s. She kept doing benefit concerts that went a long way in getting the organization out of debt. Now, the symphony has a new $123 million building Vince quipped that $123 million would buy him groceries for a month.

Speaking of the symphony hall, I’m told the Music Without Boundaries concert hosted by Marty Stuart on Sept. 11 was really good. It’s no surprise, either, considering it featured banjo legend Earl Scruggs, Dobro whiz Jerry Douglas and singer-songwriter Darrell Scott. Ten years after Bill Monroe’s passing, the nimble fingers of brothers Ronnie and Rob McCoury took his highly-respected “Raw Hide” to even greater heights, and Marty’s wife, Connie Smith, was angelic singing with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.

Comings and Goings
Congratulations to Terri Clark on winning her sixth Fan Choice award at the Canadian Country Music Awards.

Congrats, too, to Lonestar drummer Keech Rainwater and his wife, CMT Canada’s Elissa Lansdell, on the arrival of their first daughter. Amelie Elizabeth Rainwater was born Aug. 30, and I’m told brother Dakota is proud of his sister.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul II tour hit the $89-million mark to become the top-grossing country concert tour ever.

During EMI’s recent corporate meetings in London, Capitol Nashville chief Mike Dungan was presented the company’s Chairman’s Award. This is the first time a North American has received the prestigious honor.

With his single “One Wing in the Fire” stirring up action, Trent Tomlinson’s Country Is My Rock is the best-selling debut album by a solo country artist so far this year.

Were you proud of Sara Evans on ABC-TV’s Dancing With the Stars? I was.

On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, did you remember those who lost their lives to terrorist attacks on our soil? Many of us also said a prayer of thanks for Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” the song that helped heal the nation following the disaster.

Gary Allan and Rascal Flatts are hard at work on the road, but when they aren’t on stage, they’re spending a lot of time on the PlayStation 2 game, Guitar Hero. It’s no wonder my four grandsons have their heads stuck in a TV with their hands stuck on clickers.

I caught Dierks Bentley, Joe Nichols, Sammy Kershaw, Tanya Tucker, Craig Morgan and Alison Krauss & Union Station at the Tuesday night Opry on Sept. 12 to celebrate the 75th birthday of the great George Jones. The music was about as good as it gets. Hearing the Possum sing my favorite song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” was out of this world.

Best Wishes to Harry Chapman
One of Nashville’s finest country music TV journalists, the very knowledgeable Harry Chapman, will no longer be associated with WTVF-TV, the local CBS affiliate. No doubt, the decision was made by some higher echelon executive who doesn’t know or care much about country music. When ASCAP hosted a “retirement” party at its Music Row offices on Wednesday (Sept. 13), the place was mobbed by Harry’s many friends from the media and music industry. At the party, Bill Anderson informed me that he, Chapman and WTVF sports reporter Hope Hines and news anchor Chris Clark all attended the University of Georgia. Brad Paisley showed up for the big event, as did Ray Scott, record producer Buddy Cannon and hit songwriters Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols. Now that he has “retired,” Harry has accepted a job as director of development for special initiatives at Belmont University in Nashville. We wish him all the best in this next phase of his career.

See this week’s Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Pinto Bean Casserole.