Brad Paisley is one heck of a unique artist, and he has been ever since he burst onto the Nashville scene by way of West Virginia. Very few country stars create a unique mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and heartstring tuggin’ love songs like Paisley. Add in his virtuoso guitar playing, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind country music superstar.
Sure, his CMA Awards hosting gig with Carrie Underwood helps. But Paisley got to his arena-filling success on the backs of great songs. Many of which he co-wrote.
With 19 No. 1 singles and plenty of great deep cuts, Paisley’s catalog runs deep. A few tunes that just barely didn’t make the cut include hits like “Perfect Storm,” “This Is Country Music,” “The Mona Lisa” and “Today.” Others include deep cuts like “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” “Two Feet Of Topsoil,” “Life’s Railway To Heaven” with Sheryl Crow, Marty Stuart and Carl Jackson, “Eastwood” (featuring Clint Eastwood himself) and “Is It Raining At Your House.” Heck, even his 2002 cover of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” could make the list. (But it didn’t).
Seriously, the competition is stiff. Let’s take a look at the cream of the crop in the 10 Best Brad Paisley Songs. (And don’t worry, “Accidental Racist” did not make the cut).
The title track off his 2009 album, “American Saturday Night” showcases what makes Paisley such a special artist. Not many could people pull off a song that somehow manages to feel patriotic without going too “Toby Keith,” while still praising American diversity and including a ripping guitar solo. He’s explored the topic a few other times too, including on songs like “Southern Comfort Zone” and “Heaven South.”
Paisley wrote this one, and as is the case with a lot of the songs on this list, it’s hard to imagine anybody else making ticks sound playfully sexy. But he hones in on what most people consider a pretty uniquely Southern experience (and an important step in preventative healthcare) and then turns it somehow into a love song. Does it age well 10 years after release? Honestly, this song is pretty timelessly tasteless (but in a good way).
Paisley’s 2011 album This Is Country Music carried some absolute smashers. Arguably his most popular song ever, “Remind Me” features his now CMA co-star Carrie Underwood and became a No. 1 on country radio as well as his highest charting single on the Billboard US charts at No. 17. Paisley also co-wrote this one. When you consider it back-to-back with a song like “Ticks,” it just shows how diverse he can be in his writing style.
Another of his earlier tunes, “Alcohol” quickly became a fan favorite and a staple of his live show after it appeared on Time Well Wasted. He wrote it entirely by himself and landed two Grammy nominations for the tune. An early example of Paisley’s knack for poking fun at, well, everyone, “Alcohol” helped establish Paisley’s musical wit. It’s interesting to note, too, that Paisley himself doesn’t imbibe.
If only he knew how much more true this song would eventually become. He wrote and released it in 2007 at the height of the Myspace craze and when Facebook still required a college email address. Consider his (also very entertaining) new song “selfie#theinternetisforever” a 10-year update of sorts. But there’s no beating the original, and the insanely catchy “Online” stands the test of time. The music video featured then-rising star Taylor Swift, who was just out of high school, and a young Kellie Pickler.
Paisley routinely collaborates with other artists (like “Start A Band” with Keith Urban, “Drive Of Shame” with Mick Jagger, “Grey Goose Chase” and “Solar Power Girl” with Timbaland, “Dying To See Her” with Bill Anderson, “Karate” with Charlie Daniels, “Out In The Parkin’ Lot” with Alan Jackson and even a “co-write” with Johnny Cash), but his song with Alabama was a huge success for a reason. Bringing the boys in to record the song with a throwback to one of their classic tunes really took this tune to the next level. It’s one thing to pay lip service to country legacies, but it’s another to incorporate them in a whole new way.
Released in 2003, “Little Moments” probably became Paisley’s go-to love song before another one five years later topped it. He took that same playful tone from a song like “Ticks” and instead slowed it down and turned it into a romantic song from the perspective of a married man that manages to feel so real without being sappy. He turns things like fender benders and burnt cakes into wedding song material, and that takes a true craftsman.
Dolly Parton lent vocals to this song, which is enough to land it on the list. But this tune penned by the phenomenal George Teren and Rivers Rutherford is the kind of song that countless people turn to in hard times of loss. It’s a great example of just how important music really is, and not just in the good times. The song also had a stint on Christian radio when Geoff Moore covered it in 2007.
If you haven’t seen the music video for this song (or heard it, amazingly), just watch it. Andy Griffith’s cameo is enough to bring you to tears (he’s not on the original recording). But this song is perhaps one of the finest examples of storytelling in modern country music. And yes, it’s definitely the song that dethroned “Little Moments” as his best love song.
Amazingly, this beautiful ballad with Alison Krauss from 2003’s Mud On The Tires never made it to No. 1 on country radio (it peaked at No. 2). But no matter, because it will go down in the pantheon of great country songs, and it’s certainly one of his fans’ favorite songs. Bill Anderson and Jon Randall wrote the tune, but Paisley and Krauss brought the hauntingly sad song to life. One of his four songs to go double platinum, the song also won the CMA Song of the Year Award in 2005.