OFFSTAGE: Brad Paisley on Lenten Self-Denial and “Those Crazy Christians”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Brad Paisley ’s 40 days of self-denial are almost over. He told Parade magazine he gave up bread for Lent , which will be officially over on Easter Sunday (March 31). Paisley was raised as a Southern Baptist and is still a churchgoer, so he’s obviously a believer. But one of the new songs on his upcoming Wheelhouse album is written from the perspective of a nonbeliever. Of “Those Crazy Christians,” Paisley said, “This is what I would consider a gospel song, the most important one I’ve ever done — a lot more important to me than ’What a Friend We Have in Jesus.'” He wrote the song with Kelley Lovelace after his cousin-in-law died. “To play the part of the skeptic in that song is a much more powerful argument to me — in favor of [belief] as well as looking at some of the things that are baffling,” Paisley said. “My most devout friends love it and so do my agnostic ones — but for very different reasons.” I love it because it has a charming way of summing up so many of the contradictions of this faith, like how we curse the devil’s whiskey while we drink the Savior’s wine. It asks, “What if they’re wrong, but what if they’re right?” Paisley admits he doesn’t have all those answers. “I’m not answering questions with my songs,” Paisley says. “I don’t have the answers. But I am asking the questions, and that’s the fun part. I’m like the kid in class with his hand up. … I think that’s a powerful place to create from.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.