On This Day: Brad Paisley Releases ‘Wheelhouse’ Album in 2013

by Suzanne Halliburton

Brad Paisley turned his home in Tennessee into a studio and then produced an album on his own.

Country music fans enjoyed the result of Paisley’s efforts on this day eight years ago when Paisley released Wheelhouse. The album was No. 1 with a bullet, selling more than 100,000 copies in its first week.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever done a record with no one there who knows how to do it,” Brad Paisley told Jimmy Kimmel on an appearance on the host’s show. “I wanted it to be special or something.

“It’s all about leaving your comfort zone, this album,” he said. “What is my wheelhouse? We have tried to go out on a limb with this record and see how far we can stretch things.”

Brad Paisley did stretch things with this album. Most of the songs tackled topics on cultural issues. They still seem relevant eight years later.

A number of stars contributed to the album, including Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Sheryl Crow, Charlie Daniels and LL Cool J.

Southern Comfort Zone was the first of four singles released from the album. The song reached No. 10 on the Billboard country chart and No. 2 for country radio play. The song included Southern lifestyle snippets, including clips from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, TV’s The Andy Griffith Show, Eddie Stubbs and NASCAR. There also were notes from Dixie, which was sung by a Baptist choir.

Paisley said the song was to encourage people to travel and acknowledge the beauty of our differences, while celebrating where you’re from.

More Songs On Brad Paisley Album Made You Think

There were other songs with titles meant to force you to think.

Paisley said he was really proud of the song Those Crazy Christians, although he expected blowback. He described it as a gospel song written by a non-believer.

“It makes a better case than most that are completely glossy and positive,” Paisley told USA Today. “Those are songs for the choir.

“I still think there will be people who misunderstand what I’m saying, but welcome to the Internet. But that is the job of art, to promote discussion.”

Accidental Racist also sparked discussion. LL Cool J came to Nashville to help write the song with Brad Paisley and Lee Thomas Miller. The song starts by apologizing to a Starbucks employee for wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd/Confederate flag t-shirt.

Paisley told USA Today he based the first part of the song after an actual incident. He wore a shirt with a rebel flag on it during an appearance on television. He said he didn’t know then that many people are hurt by the flag symbol.

“I saw a few posts online calling me a racist,” Paisley said. “I thought, ‘Wow, so that’s all it takes, is to accidentally do that, or to accidentally make a statement you’re not meaning to make.’ “

LL Cool J called Brad Paisley “bold and courageous” for addressing the topic.

He said: “If he’s willing to take that bold step to bring about some healing, bring about some dialogue, get people to talk, especially at this time in America, I’m with it 100%.

“It’s one of those songs that teaches people about themselves. If you listen to it and you find yourself getting irritated, that means there’s some things you’ve got to address. If you listen to it and you find yourself understanding it and relating to it, then that’s something you probably should express.”