Brad Paisley and about a hundred well-wishers gathered under the stars -- well, sort of -- Monday night (Sept. 11) at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville to take in a memorable presentation at the museum's planetarium. As his three-week No. 1 hit "The World" played over the speakers, the crowd stared up at the glittering dome as a cow, an ice cream cone and a huge-eyed alien zoomed across the solar system. The museum created the clever show specifically for the party, and Paisley seemed as delighted with the results as the giggling children in the audience.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
While most No. 1 parties take place in corporate offices, Paisley chose the venue so kids could come, too, and also because it's a natural fit with the song itself. After several speeches and countless certificates were handed out to Paisley and co-writers Kelley Lovelace and Lee Thomas Miller, the microphone was finally handed to the singer-songwriter.
"I know there are kids out here thinking, 'This is the absolute worst planetarium show I've ever seen,'" Paisley joked. Then he proceeded to break one of the rules of show biz by sharing the spotlight with a kid -- Manny Rogers, the young son of Paisley's producer Frank Rogers, who was unable to attend. (It was a cute exchange, though, especially since some of the plaques were taller than the child.) Paisley also thanked his band for coming to the party on their day off. The same guys also played on his album, Time Well Wasted, released last year.
"This is all about feeling good -- coming across the radio and letting people feel like they matter to somebody, even if they've had a bad day," Paisley said. "We tried to pick those examples in the song, like the airport ticket counter, where they make you feel like crap more than anywhere else on the planet. Have you guys flown lately? They check your orifices." After some nervous laughter from the adults, Paisley chimed in, "Yes, kids! Ask them what that means!"
Before the party, Paisley explained to reporters the song idea dawned on him at a children's charity event after one of the parents addressed the crowd. "She said, 'The rest of you guys who put this thing on may feel like to the world, you don't matter. But to us, you are the world.' She said those words, and as soon as she said that, I thought, 'Man, that would be a good song,'" Paisley said.
He later approached Lovelace with the idea, but Lovelace said he'd already written something like that with Miller -- and they had both hated the results. Paisley, Lovelace and Miller started the song over from scratch. It ended up being the first song Paisley wrote for Time Well Wasted.
"It was harder to write than you might think," he said. "Every example needed to be universal and it needed to be simple and something that within a couple of words you could say and understand. Like the teller at the bank, the airport ticket counter, the beauty shop -- things like that are all instances where you may have these feelings."
Paisley also noted the final mix of "The World" took a long time to evolve. "There are versions of this song that exist somewhere, where I was halfway through the process and thought we were done," he said. "It ended up we weren't. We'd play it in soundcheck and go listen to the tape, but something about it wasn't right. And now, we look back on that and I'm glad we didn't stop writing it until it really was the state it's in now."
He added that he wanted to capture the dedication of loving somebody in the words of the song -- yet still find a good groove that matched the positive, uplifting lyrics.
"This was all about guitar for me," he said "It's the kind of song where if I sat and played it on an acoustic guitar, or for somebody who had never heard it before, it's not going to hit them like 'He Didn't Have to Be' would or some of the other ballads. But when you start cramming 32 guitars on this thing and the drums fill in the gap, and the background vocals and the Clavinova [digital piano] part and the things that pop in and out of it and the tremolo thing ... it becomes a record, and it becomes more of a song that makes you groove and makes your head go up and down a little bit."