My #4 album of 2003 is Brad Paisley’s third studio album, Mud on the Tires. This was one of the first Paisley records I bought after discovering him through 2009’s American Saturday Night, and it remains my second favorite of his (again, after American Saturday Night).
This was the album where Paisley fully embraced his unique oddball persona. He serves up a few earnest love songs, a few traditional country ballads, a few joke songs, and a few complex instrumental tracks, and somehow makes it all fit together in one package so it makes sense.
Mud on the Tires features some of Paisley’s best songs, including the sublime title track, the hilarious ‘Famous People,’ the heartbreaking Alison Krauss duet ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ and the sweetly romantic ‘Little Moments.’ It placed four singles in the Top Five of the Country chart (including a #1 for the title track) and has sold more copies than any of his other albums.
Paisley’s last few albums were so-so. He hasn’t made a great one since 2011’s This is Country Music. But one spin through Mud on the Tires is enough to drive home that he’s a special talent.
Finally got that promotion I worked hard to get
One that came with a company car
When they gave me the keys they said son you can bet
Keep it up and you’ll really go far
But what good is all that knowing
The best thing that I had going
My good friends come around to hang out now and then
And they joke, man you’ve sure got it hard
With this house on the hill and a white picket fence
And the grass sure is green in the yard
Well I squandered my time trying to buy everything
Gave her all that I thought she deserved
Now I know all the things that she wanted were free
And I should have been home holding her
Perhaps it’s just genetic or cultural, but this Jewish guy from South Florida of New York lineage just can’t get into this twangy country music sound.