Country superstar Brad Paisley's song "Accidental Racist," from his new Wheelhouse album, is generating all sorts of activity in the press—and not all of it's good. The track, which is a duet with rap icon LL Cool J, has caused a firestorm of controversy because of views expressed in the lyrics.
In Guitar World's exclusive interview with Paisley, which served as the cover story for our May issue, the guitarist responds to the criticism surrounding "Accidental Racist":
GUITAR WORLD In “Accidental Racist” you depict a situation of someone going to Starbucks wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt with a confederate flag on it and offending the barista. Was that an autobiographical event?
BRAD PAISLEY I’ve done that kind of thing before. I was called a racist once for wearing an Alabama T-shirt. That really opened my eyes. Am I really a racist for wearing that shirt? Because I don’t feel like one. How do I show Southern pride but still be sensitive to the past? We can’t forget the past, and it’s a very sensitive, nuanced issue. That’s why I wanted to write about it. I don’t answer the question at all, but I’m asking it, and that is the first step toward answering it. It’s a very serious song that needed to be presented seriously.
LL Cool J is so smart, and he approached it from a great perspective. We both believe in what we said, and getting to do that together was fun. It was a collaborative event between LL and me. I wanted to explore the challenges within our society with that song by combining the two authentic genres that could speak on that subject with expertise. He’s a great guy and incredibly classy. I played him what I was working on and asked if he wanted to be part of it, and he said that he did.
Guitar World's May 2013 issue, featuring Brad Paisley on the cover, can be purchased here.