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Birthday boy Brad Paisley, who turned 38 on Oct. 28, celebrated his birthday and his 15th Billboard No. 1 song, “Water,” at an appropriately aquatic-named place: Nashville’s Watermark restaurant. Brad joined songwriters Chris DuBois and Kelley Lovelace, along with members of his label, Arista Nashville, the Country Music Association and former Arista Nashville executive Tim DuBois to celebrate the song’s success.
“‘Water’ has been really fun and certainly successful for us. It's also been disastrous,” Brad told reporters before the press conference, referring to the May flooding in Nashville that both devastated most of Brad's H2O World Tour equipment shortly before the tour began, and brought a heightened awareness to his song and the tour. "It’s been more than I expected in every way. It originally was going to be a single and a good tour name. We decided to run with that concept and said, ‘What can we do? Let’s give people some added value for their ticket by making a water park for them. Then let’s pair with a charity.’ It became more than a single or a song on an album, it became a whole year of my life.”
He says the floods in Nashville changed the way the song was perceived. “It got way more meaning than I ever expected it to get, or wanted it to get,” he said. “In the height of it, I was ready for it to have a little less meaning. We were faced with all of these things, like rebuilding the set, rebuilding the city, making something good out of a bad thing. I don’t mind being in that position. It was so meaningful. It was the best year of my life, in every way this year, because there was just nothing that felt hollow about this year, after having a song that couldn’t have been more appropriate and a little painful.”
Given that Brad’s newest single, “Anything LIke Me,” is about a father wondering if his newborn son will grow up to be like him, Brad shared that his older son, Huck, is developing some similarities to his famous father. “He’s really similar to me in that he has a lot of the characteristics I seemed to have as a kid, at least my parents think so," allowed Brad. "It seems like he’s very focused and he’s the kind of kid that he’s kind of quiet until he gets to know you, which is sort of like me. He’s already showing creativity, which I like. We really encourage that. I’m living proof of how good things can happen when you try to create. My whole life has been that. I haven’t had any luck following necessarily the rules as I have . . . all my luck has come from ideas. He seems to be doing that. Jasper is a little more . . . I don’t what he is. He’s the opposite. That’s often the case with kids. The second one is born and looks at the first one and goes, ‘OK, that’s covered.’ Huck thinks things out. He’ll get up on a chair and I’ll say, ‘Huck, what do you think will happen if you jump off of that?’ He’ll say, ‘I’ll get hurt.’ I’ll ask if he’s going to jump off the chair and he’ll say, ‘Well, no.’ If I ask Jasper the same question, he’ll go, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see,’ and he jumps. We have been to the emergency room already with [Jasper]. We just gave him our name and started an account. We’ll be back. Huck just sort of shakes his head at his little brother.”
As Brad has racked up enough No. 1 songs to release a double-disc greatest-hits album, Hits Alive, next week, Brad took a moment to look back on one of his first major breakthrough songs as an artist, the ode to stepdads, “He Didn’t Have to Be.” “I remember Tim DuBois took me to lunch, and said, ‘I need to talk to you.’ He said, ‘I want you to record that stepdad song you sang for me.’ I had performed it at a radio event and hadn’t recorded it yet. [Radio] flipped and told Tim, ‘We’ll play that right now.’ I didn’t have it recorded. I said, ‘Well, can I record a shuffle song, too?’ I ended up sleeping on a foldout in studio one night thanks to that. It was all very, very lucky for me. It didn’t have to go that way. I could have had a first single of ‘Who Needs Pictures’ peak at No. 10. A lot of people liked it, but being liked doesn’t get you down the road 10 years later, necessarily. You have to make more of a wave than that. That was the first song that changed my life. Then ‘I’m Gonna Miss Her’ took me to the next level.’”
In celebration of his birthday, Brad opted to do a little giving instead of receiving. “I’ve got a Batman [toy] I want to give Huck. I’m gonna give it to him today. I even told him this morning that I’ve got him something,” Brad said with a grin. “Huck said, ‘But it’s your birthday.’ I said, ‘I know but I’ve got something I want to give you.’ He looked at me and just said, ‘Why?’ He doesn’t know it’s a Batman toy. Then he’ll lose his mind. He’ll love that.”