Two things can be true about “Whiskey Lullaby.” It’s mournful, a heartbreaking love story. It’s also an incredibly beautiful duet with Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss.
The two performed the song at the American County Music Awards in 2006. The year before, the two won the ACM for best vocal event and best video for “Whiskey Lullaby.”
Here’s the performance:
The Song’s Story And How It Got To Brad Paisley
“Whiskey Lullaby” is a love story. “Whiskey Lullaby” is about infidelity. And “Whiskey Lullaby” has a painful ending. Both the husband and wife drank themselves to death. Each was “face down in the pillow.” Both had cheated and never escaped the aching guilt.
The lullaby is for their respective funerals.
Jon Randall and Bill Anderson co-wrote the song in 2000, It awhile for the song to find its way to Brad Paisley.
Randall was going through the anguish of his divorce from country singer Lorrie Morgan. And he was sleeping on Anderson’s couch.
The initial title of the song was “Midnight Cigarette.” That was Anderson’s idea. But Randall apologized to him for being an inconvenience after his divorce.
According to an interview in the Tennessean, Randall also told Sullivan: “I’ve been an intruder, really, in your life and your home. I thank you.'”
Sullivan told Randall: “That’s all right, Jon. I’ve put the bottle to my head and pulled the trigger a few times myself.”
That’s how putting the bottle to your head and pulling the trigger became the main focus of the chorus.
Anderson said there wasn’t a rush from anyone to record the song. The subject matter was so sad, although the song, itself, was beautifully written.
“It wasn’t exactly like people were running up and down Music Row looking for double suicide drinking songs,” Anderson said.
The Chicks initially were going to record the song, but put the project on hold. Paisley’s publishing house heard about the song and pushed it Paisley’s way. Paisley wanted a woman to sing the song with him, maybe Krauss or perhaps Dolly Parton. The song was written from the husband’s perspective all the way through. But the writers tweaked it for a female part.
Krauss signed on. She and Paisley released the song in 2004. It reached No. 3 on the country charts. The critics loved it more. Besides the ACM honors, the CMA named it best song of the year. Paisley included the duet on his album, “Mud On The Tires.” The album was certified platinum.
“Whiskey River” Music Video Was Big Production
Paisley loves big production music videos. The one for “Whiskey River” was no exception.
Rick Schroder, a former child actor, starred in the video, which was set in the 1940s. Schroder played an American soldier returning from World War II.
When he returns home, Schroder finds his wife upstairs. She’s in the bed with another man. In the video, only the wife is cheating.
But the end of the video shows the wife crying over her husband’s grave. Then there is a shot of the wife’s grave. We see the couple’s daughter. She looks back and sees the ghosts of her parents, reuniting and in love in eternity.
It’s a sad love story and turns out to be a perfect song for Paisley and Krauss.