Brad Paisley's career got out of the gate quickly when all four singles he released from his debut album, Who Needs Pictures, became major hits, including two songs that topped Billboard’s Country Songs chart. Over the next decade, his career would continue to blossom as his singles became stalwarts at the very top of the charts. Here are my picks for the top 10 best songs so far in Brad Paisley’s illustrious career.
10. “Start a Band” featuring Keith Urban (from ‘Play’)
The only single released from his largely instrumental sixth album, Play, Paisley teamed up with fellow A-lister, Keith Urban, on this raucous number about getting a guitar, donning torn-up jeans, coming up with a cool name and starting a band. Paisley and Urban’s voices work well together, and the musicianship, as expected, is top-notch, especially toward the end of the song when they are trading sizzling guitar licks.
9. “When I Get Where I’m Going” featuring Dolly Parton (from ‘Time Well Wasted’)
Paisley teamed up with Dolly Parton on “When I Get Where I’m Going,” the second single from Time Well Wasted, and the result is an emotionally wrenching yet very inspirational song. Paisley’s vocals are the star here, and he’s never sounded more believable and earnest. Parton is a joy, too, and together their voices mesh beautifully. For anyone who has recently lost someone special, this song is guaranteed to bring a flood of tears.
8. “Alcohol” (from ‘Time Well Wasted’)
“Alcohol,” the hilariously sad-but-true debut single from Paisley’s Time Well Wasted album, is sung from alcohol’s perspective: “I can make anybody pretty/I can make you believe any lie/I can make you pick a fight/with somebody twice your size.” The song makes you smile from the outset, probably because there’s so much truth behind Paisley’s tongue-in-cheek lesson. It’s a guitar-driven bluesy number that shines the spotlight on Paisley’s sizzling fret work.
7. “I’m Still a Guy” (from ‘5th Gear’)
“I’m Still a Guy” expresses many of the same boys-will-be-boys sentiments as Paisley's 2002 single, “I’m Gonna Miss Her (the Fishing Song),” albeit this time he does so with a more mature and accommodating attitude. It’s still quite humorous, but now instead of choosing fishing over his woman, Paisley merely points out the differences between the sexes: “When you see a dear/You see Bambi/I see antlers up on the wall/When you see a lake you see picnics/And I see a large mouth up under that log.” This time, however, Paisley begrudgingly admits that he’d walk her silly dog and hold her purse in the mall if he really had to. Now that’s true love!
6. “I’m Gonna Miss Her (the Fishing Song)” (from ‘Part II’)
Paisley’s third No. 1 hit, “I’m Gonna Miss Her (the Fishing Song),” is really the first song that let us know that this talented guy had a pretty good sense of humor. The song is funny from the get-go, even more so because the first verse has the tender feel and sound of a true love song: “Well I love her/But I love to fish/I spend all day out on this lake/And hell is all I catch.” Paisley actually co-wrote the song in college and wanted it on his debut album, Who Needs Pictures, but the decision was made to hold it until his follow-up album, Part II.
5. “Mud on the Tires” (from ‘Mud on the Tires’)
The fourth and final single from Paisley’s Mud on the Tires album, “Mud on the Tires” is pure country bliss. The song starts out sparsely, with Paisley’s soft acoustic guitar accompanied by a banjo while he sings to his girl about the keys he’s holding to a brand new Chevy truck. The song quickly builds into a rollicking feel-good tune about spending time together with the two things he covets most: his new truck and the girl he loves (not necessarily in that order).
4. “Then” (from ‘American Saturday Night’)
The first single from American Saturday Night, “Then” is a tender love note from Paisley to his wife, Kimberly Williams, detailing some key early moments in their relationship: “I remember, trying to stare the night that I first met you/You had me mesmerized/And three weeks later, in the front porch light/Taking forty-five minutes to kiss goodnight/I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then.” One of Paisley’s very best love songs, which is saying a lot because he’s a master at them.
3. “Celebrity” (from ‘Mud on the Tires’)
Much of the success of “Celebrity,” the debut single from Paisley’s 2003 Mud on the Tires album, can be attributed to the song’s hilarious video co-starring William Shatner. Even without the video, however, the single holds up entirely on its own. Paisley is well-known for his trademark self-deprecating humor, and “Celebrity” highlights that trait perfectly. The irony is that Paisley is a bona-fide celebrity, yet he possesses such enormous boy-next-door charm that he makes the satire of the song work that much better.
2. “He Didn’t Have to Be” (from ‘Who Needs Pictures’)
The second single from Paisley’s platinum debut album, Who Needs Pictures, “He Didn’t Have to Be” shot to No. 1 in December of 1999 and signaled to the country world that this kid from West Virginia was more than just a guitar prodigy. Co-written by Paisley and longtime songwriting partner, Kelley Lovelace, the song was inspired by Lovelace’s own relationship with his stepson. It also climbed to No. 25 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
1. “Whiskey Lullaby” featuring Alison Krauss (from ‘Mud on the Tires’)
Co-written by Hall of Famer Whisperin’ Bill Anderson and Jon Anderson, “Whiskey Lullaby” is one of the most haunting and heartbreaking country songs you’ll ever hear. Initially written for one person to sing, Paisley asked Anderson about making it a duet, and Anderson readily agreed. Paisley eventually teamed up with the wonderful Alison Krauss on this beautiful tearjerker, which took home the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year award in 2005.