Brad Paisley, Pharrell Williams: "Mad Hatters" on Beatles Tribute

Collaboration on "Here Comes the Sun" Was an Unexpected Highlight

Did you catch Brad Paisley during Sunday night's (Feb. 9) incredible salute to the Beatles? In case you missed it, he was fab -- just like the Fab Four.

The Beatles: The Night That Changed America -- A Grammy Salute aired on CBS exactly 50 years to the day the British supergroup made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. And their music once again won the hearts of America.

Everyone from Paisley and Keith Urban to Joe Walsh to Katy Perry to Stevie Wonder to Gary Clark Jr. and Alicia Keys stepped onstage to perform for Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of the late John Lennon and George Harrison before McCartney and Starr took the stage themselves during the recent taping in Los Angeles.

Because Paisley and Urban were both a part of the celebration, my house was on extra-high alert to watch, so we had a family viewing party. It's really the only way to watch a special like this. It's as much fun listening to my mama ask who that great singer in the funky hat is (in this case, she as referring to Pharrell Williams) as it is listening to her recall actually watching the Beatles' original performance as a teenager.

So let's talk about Paisley and Williams -- or, as Paisley called their pairing in a hilarious tweet, the "mad hatters." Their performance of "Here Comes the Sun" allowed for Williams to inject his soulfulness while Paisley brought the country flavor to Harrison's song.

By all appearances, it may have seemed like a risky collaboration because the only two things Williams and Paisley seem to have in common is their affinity for hats. (I have to say, I'm a huge Williams fan, but I did prefer Paisley's signature white-hot cowboy hat to Williams' slightly Smokey-the-Bear inspired style. But, hey, it's all a matter of opinion, right?)

But the collaboration did work because great songs can do that. When the songs mean something, they can come to life, inspire and move in any style. The Beatles' songs are just that -- incredibly special and timeless songs. That's why just about any artist from any musical genre will usually name the legendary group as an influence or, at the very least, a favorite. It's also why stars like Paisley and Urban will jump at the chance to take part in such a prestigious tribute.

Urban's performance of "Don't Let Me Down" with John Mayer was also an audience favorite. Urban and Mayer are former collaborators, including an appearance on CMT Crossroads, so the pairing wasn't as unexpected as Paisley and Williams. Nonetheless, it was another home run and another good showing for the country music community.

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