Oh Brad Paisley. I was hoping that not changing your last name from the name of a fabric pattern would be the dumbest thing you did in your career… I was wrong. You out-paisley-ed paisley with your song “Accidental Racist.” And now you’re making it worse by defending it.
A lot has been said about your this song. Okay not a lot of different things, but a lot of the same thing, namely that it was a big effing mistake.
Let me preface this by saying I am writing this as a tried and true country music fan. A country music fan who took something called the “light rail” on New Jersey Transit last summer to see YOUR concert in Trenton. A country music fan who was so dedicated to the cause of good country music that she drank several Bud Light Limes, made out with a 20-year-old, left her phone on the hillside and then passed out on the train until the conductor yelled that we had arrived in Penn Station and we needed to get off the train. I did this for YOU and the kind of music you make.
This song was a mistake. And I don’t feel sorry for you. You strayed from the core of country music, and you failed. It’s like McDonalds trying to do a gourmet sandwich. We’re not looking for meaning or thought-provoking lyrics here. We’re just looking for feel-good times.
I will admit, I’m sometimes a little embarrassed to be a country music fan because of what it’s associated with. Country music is a hard sell.
First, the whole country music scene tends to feel very Republican, what with the small town focus and the emphasis on family values. That’s cool, but I’m not Republican. I have to ignore that whole facet when I listen.
Second, ignorance veiled as patriotism is a celebrated (or at least not apologized for) thing. Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You” has the following lyric: “I’m not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran…” Well, Alan, you should be able to tell the difference. You’re part of this world and you’re older than twelve. Take it upon yourself to know the difference.
Third, country music singers frequently wear bootcut jeans, when it’s like, “Hello, guys. It’s not 1993 anymore.”
BUT I listen anyway. Because there are some very redeeming things about country music. Here’s a quick little primer on why country music can be wonderful:
- It’s actually very pretty music a lot of the time. See for example, Sugarland’s “Stay”. A beautiful song, in my opinion.
- Country music employs the clever “turn of phrase” better than any other genre. And as cheesy as it is, it’s a super satisfying technique. See, e.g., Sugarland’s “Stay.”
- It is the one genre of music where men still pretend that women should be pursued and that it’s better to be settling down with a lady than living the bachelor life. See, e.g., Brice Lee’s “A Woman Like You”. Or, Brad Paisley’s “She’s Everything”.
Did I just say Brad Paisley? Yes I did! See, Brad? You were right on the mark! You married Kimberly Williams of Father of the Bride fame, you have a cute (if not a bit too pinched) face, and you were singing nice songs about how great women are. Just do more of that! Don’t try to solve race relations by just bringing it up as a general discussion topic.
Also from a purely songwriting perspective, people usually title songs with words that are in the song. I kept expecting the words “accidental racist” to be used in the song and I found it very unfulfilling when they weren’t. But you know, that’s like criticizing Mein Kampf because it has a typo.