Thursday, 25 May 2017

May #2: Laughing & Crying With Brad

First off, I know: that is one freakin' awful album cover. I mean, you already decided not to bother with this post, right? And if that wasn't enough... this is Brad Paisley. The current king of Nashville. Glossy, corporate country music with not a drop of authentic Americana in sight. I should stop right here...



I love Brad Paisley. He's not only my favourite contemporary country star, he's also become one of my favourite recording artists of the 21st Century. He seems like a genuine bloke, not a spangly Stetson poster boy; a singer who's got where he is by playing all the obvious country cards... then opening up a second pack and dealing out songs about subjects country music rarely covers. The internet. The environment. Workplace sexism. Near death experiences. Bad people winning lotteries. Searching each other for ticks as a prelude to getting it on...

Brad regularly manages to make me laugh... and cry. Big, genuine, monster pipette tears. Yeah, I know, I cry a lot these days. At the stupidest things. I keep meaning to do a Top Ten Songs That Make Me Bawl Every Time I Hear Them... but I'm worried it would be too traumatic to listen to them all back-to-back.

Anyway, here's a song that has managed to evoke both those reactions... which you've got to admit is pretty rare. But it's probably just me...

2. Brad Paisley - Last Time For Everything

The tears came first. I was driving to work when I first listened to this song. And here was Brad - who's exactly the same age as me, minus six months - listing all the great experiences in his life that he'll never have again. That's what this song is about, beginning with the big teenage experiences that you quickly grow out of... or no longer need to worry about...
Using a fake ID at a college bar
Getting caught with a girl in the backseat of a car
Running out on the field for the senior game wearing number 17
There's a last time for everything
Yes, they're very American experiences. But I grew up in the 80s, my teenage years were filtered through over-exposure to American TV shows and teen movies. I can relate. Things get more universally emotive in verse three when Brad evokes memories of your grandparents and first pet you'll never see again. But it's the last verse when he really kicked me in the gut...
Kissing goodbye on her porch and driving away
Introducing her as your fiancee
Getting woke up at 5 am to see if Santa came
There's a last time for everything
Throughout the song he namedrops a couple of artists no longer with us - Glen Frey and Little Jimmy Dickens - remembering the last time he saw them perform live. We're reminded that any time could be our last time, for anything. Something I guess we've all thought about this week. So the song's final line... well, I won't spoil it, but by then I was blubbing. (And remember: this guy is called Brad Paisley...)

OK, so here's the song. I'm sure you won't end up a quivering mess like I did, but give it a try...

Then... prepare yourself for the actual video. Which turned the song on its head for me and actually had me grinning, even laughing by the end. Again, I'm the same age as Brad, so the cultural references he chooses to pepper the visuals with are right up my street. Knight Rider. Ghostbusters. Back To The Future. Raleigh Choppers and Sony Walkmans. Even a bit of Huey Lewis & The News. (Plus, as you may have already noticed, the song is built round a guitar riff which melds Run To You with Every Breath You Take.) But this time the kicker comes with the video's wonderfully timed celebrity cameo - a fluke, as it turns out, since the celeb in question apparently just turned up when he heard Paisley was filming because he's a big fan. It'll only make you really smile if you're the same age as me and Brad... but I watched the video four times in a row the day I discovered it. (If you dig it, make you sure watch right to the very end.)

Nostalgia's weird. It can make you laugh and cry in the same song. Enjoy it while you can.

This could be the last time... I don't know.


  1. Had to have a look at those lyrics and can see how they really resonated for you - and Paisley indeed. The film is just great and perfect for someone your age what with all the '80s references. Somehow those teen memories evoke just so much nostalgia (and blubbing) and it's something I've noticed since starting my blog - In your twenties/thirties life has become that bit more serious and difficult sometimes to reminisce quite as fondly. Once kids come along you experience it all vicariously through them however so a new bank of fond memories emerges.

    I've got at least a decade head start on you so many more things I'll have experienced for the last time BUT am hoping that there will still be lots of new things to be experienced for the FIRST time. Cross-fingers.

    A lovely nostalgic post.

    1. My actually teenage years were pretty dull and at times pretty depressing... I choose rose-coloured nostalgia where I remember them as a John Hughes movie...

    2. I now realise I must have been one of the lucky ones as my teenage years were pretty good on the whole. So not like a John Hughes movie though - much more like Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl!

  2. Oh so great that it was a fluke about that celebrity's appearance - perfect.
    I like how lyrics like these just show how we're all fundamentally on the same journey - our first (last) things are just individual variations on the same theme. I'd actually like to see everybody I know write their own take on this song and then compare them! Pretty sure they'd all go along similar lines but the differing (or same) cultural references would be a joy.

    1. We don't appreciate what we have when we have it. A lot of the time, we only see it for how good it was once it's gone...

      As Joni Mitchell once remarked...

  3. I came to this with no preconceptions, to be honest I'd never heard of Brad Paisley, but I thoroughly enjoyed the song and the video - very well written and observed. Both poignant and funny.
    Yes I'm a blubber too - and it's getting worse. I could probably do my own Top Ten Songs That Make Me Bawl Every Time I Hear Them as well, but as you say, listening to them all back to back would probably finish me off for the day.

    1. Yes, the blubbering definitely gets worse as we get older, I've decided. Glad it's not just me. I well up all the time now, even just at people's talent - not even sad stuff - ridiculous! However, I do like the idea of a Top Ten Songs That Make Me Bawl Every Time I Hear Them, from you or Rol!

    2. .. make that 'and'. You AND Rol!

    3. Glad you enjoyed it, Swede.

      I'm sure I'll get round to that Top Ten eventually, C. Of course, if The Swede did it first, I'd have more incentive...

  4. "Nostalgia's weird. It can make you laugh and cry in the same song"

    What a line. And bang on the money.



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