Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley recently performed their chart-climbing hit “Freedom Was A Highway” during an episode of The Bobby Bones Show, and the two superstars revealed how Paisley came to be part of the collaboration–thanks to a hangout session with Allen, Paisley, Tim McGraw and Darius Rucker at a barn on Paisley’s property near Nashville.
“We were at Brad’s house last year after the Opry,” Allen said. “I kind of invited myself and he kind of invited me..and just me, him, Tim and Darius hanging out and we started playing songs. I played ’Freedom Was A Highway,’ a new song, and Tim was like, ’We should do a song together.’ I was like, ’Cool,’ so I sent Brad…”
“Instead of Tim…” Paisley interjected.
“Yeah, instead of Tim, I sent Brad ’Freedom Was A Highway,’ and he said yeah and hopped on it.” Allen continued.
“I saw you were on the Opry that night and those guys were already coming over, so I said, you’ve got to come over.'” Paisley said. “There’s a great couple of videos that I have on my phone of us. I put one of them up at the time and it was right before COVID…in February  right before COVID hit. We sang some Hank [Williams] Jr. songs and goofed around and played some of the new things you were working on. It was so much fun just to sit around the way I think people envision Nashville artists hanging out.
“I had a bunch of people over,” Paisley added. “Tim asked where the bathroom was and I said, ’Oh, it’s down the hall,’ and he was like, ’Nah, that’s alright,’ and he just walks outside and goes right there in the bushes. And he’s like waving like Cousin Eddie in [National Lampoon’s] Christmas Vacation when Jimmie drives up.”
Asked if he gets nervous hanging out with superstars including Paisley, McGraw and Rucker, Allen said, “It’s kind of both. On one half, these are guys that have influenced me and my music and are guys I hope my career follows, but on the other side, we’re just dudes hanging out.”
“You belong there, though…and we’re thrilled you are here and I’m thrilled you asked me to be on this [song],” Paisley said. “When he asked, ’Will you be on a song on my record?,’ it’s like, ’Please let it be a good song. Please don’t give me the bad one, give me the good one.’ There aren’t any bad ones, though.”
Allen recently released Bettie James Gold Edition, an expanded version of his 2020 Bettie James EP. The Gold Edition includes the collaborations with McGraw, Rucker, Paisley and more from the EP, plus collabs with Breland, Lathan Warlick, Babyface, Little Big Town, Monica and more.
“I named it after my father and grandmother and I wanted to do an album full of collaborations,” Allen said. “I didn’t want to wait 10 years into my career to show people who I am and my musical influences. I kind of wanted to do it now.”