Brad Paisley featuring Alabama – “Old Alabama”

Blake Boldt | March 17th, 2011

Brad PaisleySongwriters: by Chris DuBois, Brad Paisley, Randy Owen and Dave Turnbull

With the second single from his forthcoming studio album This Is Country Music, Brad Paisley honors Country Music Hall of Famers Alabama with what will surely be a summertime staple at barbeques and beach parties. “Old Alabama,” a lite country-rock anthem of warm weather pleasures, is custom-made for listeners to crank the volume at full blast.

This mild uptempo song centers on the object of Paisley’s affections, a woman whose “idea of a romantic night is listening to old Alabama, driving through Tennessee.” Over a series of jutting guitar licks, he references classic hits from the band like “Love in the First Degree” and “Dixieland Delight.” Three members of Alabama (Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry) offer musical support in the song’s closing moments.

Paisley’s last single, “This Is Country Music,” forced the issue of what was so great about the format. In the bridge of “Old Alabama,” he gives an even less subtle nod to his favored songs. “Forget about Sinatra and Coltrane,” he sings, explaining how his woman won’t be wooed by anything but country music. He follows with further instructions—-“Barry White ain’t gonna work tonight”—and then segues into a few tweaked lyrics from Alabama’s “Mountain Music” paired with that song’s memorable melody: “Play some back-home, come-on music that comes from the heart/Play something with lots of feeling, ‘cause that’s where music has to start.” Paisley’s homage to the band is admirable, but the mention of music legends like Sinatra and Coltrane paired with these lyrics seems to distract from their talent.

“Old Alabama,” which sounds similar to Paisley’s 2007 hit “Online,” is assembly-line craftsmanship from the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year. Part of his appeal is his ability to shoot dead straight at country music’s core audience. It’s hard not to compare “Old Alabama” to Paisley’s recent summertime fare, a group of hits that were relative risks in the often conservative format. With distinctively different singles such as “Whiskey Lullaby,” “Alcohol” and “Ticks,” Paisley pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable for widespread airplay. “Old Alabama” leans heavily—-too heavily, in fact—on song mentions and recycled production.

Paisley, as close to a complete package as mainstream country has, seems to be suffering with a case of arrested development with his recent output. He offers no shortage of enthusiasm on “Old Alabama,” but the song’s quality is no match for his motivations.

Thumbs Down

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=c8ILNofM7fc

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  1. [...] on the blog, Blake reviewed Brad Paisley’s new single “Old Alabama,” which pays tribute to, well, old Alabama [...]
  1. Thomas
    March 17, 2011 at 9:36 am

    …this doesn’t really hurt on an album but a highlight it surely ain’t. moreover, as a radio single it falls short in pretty much every category apart from: song title-dropping.

  2. gloria
    March 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

    He’s no entertainer to me. I do not like his music or his singing. I try, but I just don’t connect with him. He definitely has friends in high places.

  3. Dr. No
    March 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

    First off, I’m a huge Alabama fan.

    However, this sounds like lazy songwriting to me.

    At least they gave Randy Owen a writing credit for having Randy, Teddy, & Jeff sing a piece of Mountain Music.

    In my opinion, Paisley is phoning it in; whether he’s willingly doing it or not is unknown.

  4. Ben Foster
    March 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

    You said it. The song just leans to heavily on all of the Alabama references, and that ultimately does it in. It also included such a heavy dose of “Mountain Music” samplings that I found it jarring and distracting to listen to.

  5. Freddy
    March 17, 2011 at 11:29 am

    eek Brad what’s happening here?? so far, both songs from the new album are just pandering to the “countrier than thou” nonsense that is popular right now (unfortunately). Hopefully there’s some better writing coming up on future songs, because this one and “Country Music” are both really lame by Brad’s typical standards.

    In other news, his new lead guitar tone with the Bruno amp sounds great.

  6. Stormy
    March 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

    We all thought that This Is Country Music was a celebration of country. What if this album is actually a subversive tribute to how much better country music used to be?

  7. Leeann Ward
    March 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    That would be sweet.

  8. idlewildsouth
    March 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I really want to like this song a lot. I love Alabama very very much, but I think there is a lot of sampling.

    I have been enjoying his guitar tone a lot more, Freddy. That’s honestly always been my complaint with him. It’s always sounded like his amp was under water to me before now.

  9. numberonecountryfan
    March 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    To say this is the best Brad Paisley song of all time would be an understatement (it’s not). I am surprised he could not fit in the Alabama song title If You’re Gonna Play In Texas You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band in the song.

  10. Leeann Ward
    March 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t care about Alabama enough to care about this song.

  11. Ryan r
    March 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Honestly like this better than the last single and I’m not even an Alabama fan

  12. Lewis
    March 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    While this will bring Alabama back into the Top 20, I’m afraid that this will be the record that will break Brad’s streak of #1 and #2 songs. Seems that Brad likes to name call songs now just about as much bad as others name call people.

    And while we’re at it, why is the album being released on May 24th when by then the third single will probably be announced? Brad certainly isn’t doing anyone or himself any favors about releasing the album that long about unless it’s as bad as everyone thinks it is.

  13. Rich
    March 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Love you Brad, but this is……. CRAP

  14. Fizz
    March 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I agree, it sounds lazy and corny. Giving Alabama some love is just fine, but this sounds a little too close to outright ripping them off. Maybe that’s why he hsa three of teh bandmembers involved: can’t sue if you’re in on it, can ya?

    #1 Country Fan says: “Calling this the best Paisley song of all time is an understatement (it’s not).” Uh … huh?

    First time I heard it, I thought the Sinatra/Coltrane line was “Forget about Sumatra and cocaine.” So I guess the logical next step would be “China white won’t do it tonight.”

  15. Jon
    March 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    It’s worth learning the difference between sampling and quoting.

  16. Fizz
    March 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Yeah, that too.

  17. Lewis
    March 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Fizz: Giving other people and songs some love is fine every once in a while but when it goes overboard like Brad has done first with “This Is Country Music” and now “Old Alabama” then yes it’s a problem.

    I always wondered if Randy Owen’s failed solo career is one of the reasons why Alabama reunited in the first place. Not that they don’t even need the money either but just curious on why they even went back together in the first place.

  18. CountryMusicFan
    March 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Ok, looks like I’m going to be in the minority here, but I like the song. That may be because I’m a huge Alabama fan, therefore I’m seeing the song as a tribute to them. Either way, I will agree that Brad’s recent music hasn’t been that spectacular. I think after “Mud on the Tires” his music has been going downhill.

  19. Matt B
    March 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Alabama hasn’t completely reunited as far as I know. They’ve done a track for the Waylon tribute and this.

  20. idlewildsouth
    March 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Well, their official statement is “We never broke up, we just quit touring.” Which I recall being the case at the time.

  21. Fizz
    March 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Seems like a lot of artists like to split hairs that way. “We never broke up, we just went our separate ways.” “I never quit the band, I just didn’t want to do that tour.” “We never broke up, we just didn’t see or talk to each other for 20 years.”

  22. Noeller
    March 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I know the song is stupid, I know the lyrics are hackneyed and lazy, and I know I should hate this.

    ……but I freakin’ LOVE it. Can’t stop spinning this. Most who are familiar with my posts on here, know that I love music that makes you think a little bit, but this is my “guilty pleasure” if you wanna call it that.

    Can’t stop listening to this cut, and really REALLY can’t wait till it’s warm enough I can roll down the windows and crank this one while driving down the highway.

  23. MayorJoBob
    March 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    So Mark Herndon is toast? I would assume so after he sued the band. Not like he was much of a drummer.

  24. Matt B
    March 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I don’t believe in ‘guilty pleasures’ Noeller. Just believe in like and dislike and love or hate when it comes to movies, books and music.

  25. PaulaW
    March 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Just believe in like and dislike and love or hate when it comes to movies, books and music.

    I wont go so far as hate, but I’m feeling some ‘very strong dislike’ for this one.

  26. J.R. Journey
    March 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    “Part of his appeal is his ability to shoot dead straight at country music’s core audience.

    The underlying problem with that is the narrow demographic Brad Paisley is boxing himself into with these kinds of songs. Songs like this have no chance of appealing to a mainstream audience, and serve to further alienate fans of the original sounds he references. Longtime Alabama fans aren’t going to be keen on bastardized retreads of their best songs.

    I get the concept Paisley is aiming for with the singles from this album: pay tribute to yesteryear’s country by name-dropping and borrowing heavily from song titles, lyrics, and now even melodies. The main problem I hear is that the songs Paisley is producing in honor of his ‘influences’ are just generic and one-dimensional.

  27. Kyle
    March 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t necessarily dislike this song – sounds fun, at least – but it strikes me as a 40 year-old man trying to write from a 20 year-old’s perspective (which it is). The old “my girl is country, we like to go backroading and listen to country music” angle is pretty played out, especially if there’s no other point or twist.

    To me, it almost sounds more like what someone from the suburbs imagines a rollicking country lifestyle is like, rather than someone who is telling us about their real experiences.

  28. Rick
    March 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Matt B. said: “Just believe in like and dislike and love or hate when it comes to movies, books and music.” Hey Matt, you left out politicians and the alternatives of respecting or loathing! (lol)

    I am just so over Brad Paisley! Oh wait a minute, I never gave a crap about his music to begin with, and was never an Alabama fan either. Therefore this song earns a double thumbs down rating on general principles! Brad’s music bores me to tears…

  29. Jon
    March 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    The old “my girl is country, we like to go backroading and listen to country music” angle is pretty played out, especially if there’s no other point or twist.

    Actually, there is a twist, hinted at by the title.

  30. Janelle
    March 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I’m starting to really hate this song — every time it comes on the radio, I think I’m going to hear a good song – an Alabama song…then its this crap! And someone should’ve told Brad, even Alabama only did that annoying “ey ey eyyyyyyyyy” once, not every verse that ended in an “ey”!

  31. MayorJoBob
    March 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Off topic but Ferlin Husky just died. He was 85.

  32. Kyle
    March 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I don’t really consider substituting “Old Alabama” for [insert outlaw country star's name] much of a twist.

  33. Waynoe
    March 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    @Jon – While I do not disagree, it’s the wave for the time being.

  34. Waynoe
    March 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Kyle said, “I don’t necessarily dislike this song – sounds fun, at least – but it strikes me as a 40 year-old man trying to write from a 20 year-old’s perspective (which it is).”

    Think Brooks & Dunn as well singing about half-naked teeny girls while they are in their 50’s.

  35. luckyoldsun
    March 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    W–
    Well I’m guessing that’s a big part of the reason that Ronnie Dunn decided to pull the plug on B&D and go solo.

  36. Lewis
    March 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Now if Brad had done this for a tribute album to Alabama then it would have been all right because there are a lot of singers both old and new who could do Alabama songs pretty well and perhaps have done so before becoming popular. But in Brad’s case, he’s putting it on an album that is probably going to be his weakest album ever and also he’s running out of ideas in his songwriting because you can only name drop songs and people so much till it gets to be tiredsome. He should be writing about The Grand Ole Opry or anything about old country music instead of name dropping.

    Brad should have done a covers album but I would even guess that it wouldn’t top Alan Jackson’s Under The Influence.

    He should have at least done a duet with Little Jimmy Dickens and that would have been even better since Jimmy is 90 and Brad is 38.

    And Waynoe, since Alabama’s “comeback” of sorts, I’ll make a pretty good prediction that Brooks & Dunn will be back in a couple of years or so because as Fizz said no one really breaks up these days unless you’re Alabama or The Judds and I don’t that either Ronnie or Kix will last very long in their solo efforts before they come back again.

  37. Lewis
    March 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    LuckyOldSun: “Bleed Red” sounds like a Brooks & Dunn song only dropping Kix’s vocals from the mix and add another background vocalist to it. It’s just that Ronnie has been lead vocalist for 12 years since Kix’s last charted hit in Brooks & Dunn in 1999 tanked so it’s not surprising about his “solo efforts” since Ronnie may have wrote these songs with Kix in mind to sing them when they were a duo.

  38. Fizz
    March 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I like Kyle’s characterization of “someone from the suburbs imagining what a rollicking country lifestyle is like.” There are a ton of songs like that, and guess who they’re aimed at: people in subdivisions with names like “Tall Pines Estates” who have this rosy vision of “life in the country,” and somehow see themselves as part of it because they cut their own grass (John Deere, of course).

  39. Phil Chandler
    March 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Brad is coming to London in August and this is the sort of stuff they’ll love. The country is full of pseudo-rock, witness Jason aldean/Kelly Clarkson et al. At least this is COUNTRY!!…who cares if it’s a little old-fashioned. I guarantee Brad’s fans will go wild when he plays it on tour.

  40. Fizz
    March 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    But the thing that most makes it country is that it “incorporates” (or rips off, if you prefer) Alabama’s own work.

  41. Noeller
    March 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I’ll be honest with you guys, when I got the email from Sony, and I sat down to listen for the first time, I almost came outta my seat when Randy first kicks in with “….play some back home, come on music…” I know, I know…I probably shoulda seen it coming, but I really didn’t.

    I’m a huge fan of Alabama’s music, and I’m real happy with this “tribute” to ‘em.

  42. Waynoe
    March 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    @LUCKYOLDSON-I have often wondered about that concerning Dunn’s departure.

  43. Emgee
    March 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    AWESOME song!

  44. Steve
    March 25, 2011 at 2:31 am

    People…..ease off!!….It’s a tribute song that has now inspired an album that Paisley and Alabama are putting together.

    The harshest critics are the ones that couldn’t pluck a note anyway.

    Paisley will go down as one of the best country songwriters. He’s not looking for comparisons to Shakespeare.

    A word of advice…pop in a Paisley CD, plug in your radar detector and watch for smokey!

    Oh, and have on old Alabama CD queued up!!

  45. EDUARDO
    March 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I like this song, I don’t understand why the majority don’t. And Brad’s last single was also very good.

  46. clint childress
    April 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    for all you jerks out there its a tribute to alabama ,and a freakin good tune so take your heads out of your butts ,as for as mark herndon he is an awesome drummer, and was a big part of there hudge sucess ,signed the biggest alabama fan.

  47. numberonecountryfan
    April 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    For clint childress: Please, no name calling. It is impossible to take you seriously when you do so. If you are claiming to be the biggest Alabama fan out there, please honor them as well by posting in a way that actually promotes further discussion. Your post does not do that. Thanks.

  48. Chris N.
    April 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Also: you don’t have to sign comments, grandpa.

  49. Dave S.
    April 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Funny how most other reviews of this song are positive and so are the comments. This review is negative and so are most of the comments. Do people really kiss the writers rears that much.

  50. Dave S.
    April 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Alabama was around for so long people got too ‘used’ to them. I think their voices were missed and this is a good reminder of the great early harmonies of Alabama.

  51. Gail Z
    April 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I am a fairly new Brad fan, but a “HUGE” Alabama fan, I think it rocks!!!!! I love hearing the old band members and the tribute is awesome, it is like going home again…..and you can actually hear what the words are, it is nice to be able to sing along!!!!

    Now to talk about someone that knows someone—-Taylor Swift, I’m not sure who she knows, but she must have some connection, because I can’t imagine why people pay to hear her scream words at them, there is no melody and her songs do not make any sense, the funny thing is most country singers work their asses off for years to make any money and she steps into it, marketing is an amazing tool, almost brainwashing…lol

  52. Kyle
    April 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Imagine that.Another awesome song that the 9513 bashes. Brad is great and this will be another big hit for him. He respects the ones that paved the way for him and this song does a great job at paying homage to them. I crank it up everytime I hear it. I also thought TICM was great as well. I guess I just love country music too much.

  53. RowdyRed
    April 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    One of the things I really appreciate about Brad is the bridge he has built between trad and modern country. Most of Brad’s albums contain either a spiritual or a classic song (like Old Wooden Cross or You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive) as well as references to very contemporary issues, like 21st century technology and global concerns. His heroes and heroines are as likely to have tech jobs as tractors. Therefore I don’t see this single, or the former one, as evidence of pandering, and I sure don’t see how writing an Alabama tribute song (and performing it with them) is a rip-off of the band. In short, I consider Brad one of the most traditional, but modern, and honest, and gifted writers/singers/musicians/performers of his generation, and beyond.

    So I enjoy this song. It’s not world-changing but, considering the genre, he’s already been there, done that. More to come, no doubt. Using this song as evidence of either a sellout or a bankruptcy of ideas is rather funny, to me.

  54. Erica
    June 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    #1 Smash Hit! The 9513 was wrong on this one!

  55. numberonecountryfan
    June 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

    For Erica: The artistic merits of a song do not necessarily reflect where the song will end up on the charts. After all, there is plenty of garbage that makes its way to the top while quality barely makes a dent on the charts. For you to scream the fact that the 9513 reviewers are right or wrong does not reflect the fact that what they were writing about makes the song good or bad. That is their opinion. The writers here know that when they review a song, they will know if if becomes a major hit for the artist (or not).

  56. CountryMusicCritic
    July 2, 2011 at 2:06 am

    I strongly disagree with this review and this entire site and it’s numerous negative reviews.

    I think this song is an impressive track on Brad Paisley’s latest album. The way Brad Paisley worked the titles of Alabama’s songs into this tune worked out brilliantly. On top of these amazing and catchy lyrics, I feel that Brad delivered an outstanding performance! Plus the production of the song doesn’t sound recycled in any way to me as well. And who can forget Alabama singing the “Play some back home come home music” part of Mountain Music. I absoluley loved hearing Alabama sing that part in the song.

    Old Alabama is a great song in and most importantly an outstanding tribute to Alabama. If I was a part of Alabama I’d be proud to say that Brad did an outstanding job with this tribute.

    I say this song deserves a thumbs up!

  57. Houston
    August 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    @COUNTRYMUSICCRITIC

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Firstly, it’s amazing how many people don’t understand that the song is a tribute to Alabama. The reason it sounds like an Alabama song, has references to Alabama songs, and features…ALABAMA!…is because IT IS A TRIBUTE. What’s so hard to understand about that? There is no sampling of Alabama material in this song. Brad wanted the guys from Alabama to actually sing the bridge from “Mountain Music” because it would sound better than sampling.

    There’s nothing wrong with this song. It’s a tribute. It’s not the best song ever, but it’s no where near being the worst song. It’s a catchy tune with some good guitar, good vocals, and overall, a good time.

    Secondly, I laugh every time I read a review on this site. The biggest difference between artists and critics is that artists actually make it to the big leagues and sell records. Critics are washed-up has-beens that are bitter about never having enough talent to even play at the Holiday Inn. Sorry folks, but that’s what you’re getting here everyday. A bunch of talentless hacks trying to make it big as…wait for it…BLOGGERS…on country music. I have a blog. My neighbor has a blog. My cat has as much authority to write reviews on country music as the hacks on this site. So here’s my “review”…

    “The 9513, unlike every single artist they criticize on their website, have no talent. None of them every made it big in country music. No originality, just a bunch of folks in a basement somewhere upset that they never had the talent and ability to make it as country singers and the only way they manage to wake up in the morning is that they feel that there is some sort of obligation to pay homage to the talentless hacks that came before them. Your site sucks.”

  58. Joe
    August 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Houston,

    You represent everything that is wrong with the world right now.

    Due to political correctness, people can’t be critics anymore because people are afraid to get their feelings hurt.

    You obviously got your feelings hurt and responded like an eight year old. Grow up junior.

  59. Houston
    August 10, 2011 at 1:43 am

    If by “everything that is wrong with the world right now” you mean someone that works for a living, willingly and happily pays his taxes, donates to charity, and doesn’t even speed on the freeway, than I’m curious how I can possibly be what’s wrong with the world. I contribute more to society than you could possibly ever imagine.

    This isn’t an issue of hurt feelings. And if you knew even a tenth of a percent of who I am as a person, you’d know that I could care less about political correctness. The world is way too uptight.

    That being said, I do like how you make a simple generalization that I am what’s wrong with the world after reading a comment. You failed to bring up a single flaw in my entire comment, which leads me to believe that either 1) you’re upset because you yourself are a “critic” or upset blogger, or 2) you simply can’t read. I happen to know of The 9513 only because I like country music, and unfortunately, I happen to see “The 9513″ a lot on the Wikipedia pages (it’s a convenient way to find out the background on the production/history of albums) of country stars and musicians because a lot of folks out there think the words of a blogger are equivalent to a credible critical review.

    That was the point of my comment. I criticized the fact that this site is run by bloggers that see themselves as a credible voice on all things country music. They are bloggers, and there is no indication that anyone on this site has any education in music, musical theory, composition, or anything related to music (in case you’re wondering, I’m a classically trained pianist, a guitarist, a drummer, and I’ve recently taught myself how to play a pretty mean saxophone, trumpet, and a Chinese instrument called an “erhu”). They are simply bloggers. If you fail to understand that, then you simply lack a college education.

    “Grow up”, you say? If you’re so upset because I criticized “critics”, I would suggest the following remedy: look in the mirror and come to the conclusion (hopefully quick) that maybe you ought to upgrade your Wonder Woman underoos to big boy pants.

  60. Timmy Ryan
    October 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Old Alabama is the country equivalent of the “sampling” of the rap world-using the hook(s) from other songs- and then singing/rapping over them. Tacky, and yet another nail in the coffin of country music. If I wanted to hear Alabama- I’d play their greatest hits collection I downloaded on my IPOD. Brad, you are a great guitar player, but a mediocre singer, and HORRIBLE songwriter. Please stop.

  61. Ruth
    October 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    This song is awful.

  62. ifitaintDixie
    June 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I am beyond amazed at the negative reviews. I always liked brad enough, but this song turned me into a huge fan. I am a HUGE Alabama fan and I thought what he did with this song using old Alabama songs was genius. I loved the music video. And since ill went to number one it clearly wasn’t as much crap as a lot of critics on here thought. I don’t know how you can say brad is a bad songwriter. While he may be a little dorky every single one of his songs has a funny twist to it and it takes more than just good song writing to be able to do that with every song. He’s fantastic. Alabama is fantastic and I am ecstatic about their comeback.

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