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.
I probably never would have considered including a ‘Country Plus’ category in my musical genome before I discovered Brad Paisley.
The other artists I’m including in that group would still have shown up, but I would have lumped them under ‘singer-songwriters’ or shoehorned them into ‘folk.’ I never would have considered embracing the ‘country’ label.
As Brad Paisley became more successful, his silly videos became more star-studded. William Shatner and Jason Alexander, in particular, would become staples of Paisley’s videos in the years to come.
Paisley was still just a minor star, however, when he wrote ‘Celebrity,’ a clever song lampooning the Hollywood culture. His focus is on the ridiculously privileged lives of the famous, and the reality show-fueled obsession ordinary people have with joining those ranks. He gets off some great lines in a supremely catchy song.
Two years after Part II, Brad Paisley released his third album, 2003’s Mud On the Tires. This one is a sentimental favorite of mine… I’d number it among his 2-3 best records.
This album is when critics and fans alike really started to stand up and take notice of Paisley’s talent. He’d had modest hits on his first two records, and they were well-received, but Mud On the Tires took things to a whole new level.
The album’s title is taken from today’s SOTD, in which it’s meant quite literally, but it’s also a metaphor for Paisley’s career. He felt that at this point he’d been around the block a few times — had a little mud on his tires — and could start stretching his wings a bit.
Brad Paisley can do so many things so well.
He’s perhaps the best songwriter around at composing straight-forward love songs (quick, name a more effective recent love song than ‘Then’ or ‘She’s Everything’). He has a great sense of humor that shines through in his albums as well as onstage. He’s a peerless guitar player who surrounds himself with excellent session players to record albums that rock and swing like crazy.
But even given all that, Paisley can still surprise from time to time, and today’s SOTD is a fine example.