LITTLE LOVE MOMENTS

A settled-in Brad Paisley talks candidly about his new married life, blue cheese fish tacos and the increasing pressures of celebrity

When newlywed Brad Paisley his current single, "Little Moments," he didn't have to look any further than his own life for inspiration. The song was taken from Brad's own experiences with his wife, actress Kimberly Williams, whom he married last March 15.

"It's meant to call attention to the things that didn't go right, to the mistakes made," he explains. "If you take away the times when we got lost trying to go somewhere, or a dinner that didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, then our relationship would be a lot more bland. For me, the line in the song, I live for little moments like that, is true. Any situations that didn't go according to plan normally wound up better because of it."

Things definitely wound up better in the kitchen.

"When we first started dating," continues Brad, "Kim was kind of new at the cooking thing. Since then, she's mastered a few things that have become favorites of mine. She does a turkey chili and a meatloaf with three different types of meat - pork, veal and beef - that's really good. But I had to walk through fire to get to that point," he adds with a laugh.

The path to good cooking was, indeed, peppered with failed experiments - like the time Kimberly tried to combine several of Brad's favorite foods into one particularly memorable dish.

"Blue cheese fish tacos," says Brad with a grin. "If you left them out on the front porch, nothing would've come around to eat them. Microbes wouldn't grow on them. It's like margarine - you can leave it in your garage and flies won't touch it. But that's one of my favorite memories of when we first started going out - that failed attempt. She basically combined a lot of things she knew I liked. She knew I liked fish, blue cheese and Mexican food. That doesn't mean they go together.

"I also like chocolate cake," he says. "But I wouldn't throw that in tacos."

Brad's marriage isn't the only thing that's cooking. This year he was nominated for four CMA Awards, in the categories of Male Vocalist, Music Video, Song and Single of the Year. And the hit song that was responsible, the tongue-in-cheek "Celebrity," stayed on the charts for over half a year.

Brad says he felt always like he had a hit song on his hands with "Celebrity," but even he was surprised by the way it took off.

"It's crazy," says Brad of the song's runaway success. "You don't know how long a song is going to last, but I felt like that one would be a hit song when I wrote it."

And ironically, the song that takes a humorous jab at fame's trappings has only made Brad a bigger celebrity.

"It changes your life in every way," notes Brad of the fame he sings about. "When you start to become famous and you travel around the country, there's nowhere you can go where somebody doesn't know who you are. Those kinds of things make life both easier and harder, because you're now in situations where you're obligated to talk to people. Whether you know them or not, they know you.

"The other day at the airport, someone wanted an autograph and I was trying to catch a plane," recalls Brad. "I signed it for them but I wish I could have spent more time with them. You definitely want to spend time with the people who got you where you are."

"Celebrity" is filled with a good-natured wit that's becoming Brad's trademark writing style. "I grew up a little bit of a smart aleck," he confesses. "I was the kid in school who got in trouble for things like that quite a bit. Even though I was kind of quiet, any time I'd make a comment it was normally a wisecrack."

Brad's chart-topping, hectic year might seem to be a stumbling block to enjoying newlywed life with Kim, who's equally busy in her role as Dana on the ABC show According to Jim. "But you know, we're not as busy as you think," he counters. "When you do what we do, we're busy in chunks. When she's taping her show, she normally works sixhour days. And that leaves you a lot of time to go to dinner and stuff. I'm busy when I'm on the road, but that's only a couple days a week. I plan my schedule to make sure there are weeks at a time when I don't do tour dates."

The happy couple keeps homes in L.A. and Nashville. Brad confesses it was interesting to adjust to sharing his space with someone. "But it was probably harder for Kim," he admits, "because I have junk all over the place. I have accumulated more crap in my four years of being a recording artist than most New York garbagemen," he laughs.

"I was the typical bachelor. She gives me a space in the house that I am allowed to kind of do my thing with. Now she's starting to take over a little bit and remodel my house in Nashville. She says I'm a good candidate for the TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

And what's the fate of Brad's beloved fishing decor in the Nashville home? "It's still got remnants of that," he says with a smile. "She hasn't had the time to napalm it yet."

Brad hasn't been spending a lot of time in his Nashville home lately. In addition to touring, he flew to L.A. in October to tape an episode of the NBC show American Dreams, playing the late pop star Ricky Nelson. "My mom loved Ricky Nelson, and when I found out that he was an option I said, 'Let's do that one.' "

Although he says he enjoyed being in front of the camera, Brad says not to expect him to become a country star-turned-actor. "I would do any part that looks like fun," he reveals, "but I'm not out reading scripts. Honestly, acting is a lot harder than music. I'll leave that to the people who belong in that industry, like Kim."

Brad is preparing to share the holiday season with his newly expanded family. "We're toying with the idea of spending one or two of those holidays with our families combined in one place. That'll be when you find out how compatible the families are," he chuckles. "But I have a feeling it'll be fine. We've all spent a little bit more time together since the wedding. Her dad and mom rode my bus with me, from Carnegie Hall down to Virginia where they have family. My dad also went. We had several of the in-laws in one place at one time. So far, nobody's calling anybody any names or anything."

Brad beams as he reflects on life as a married man. "The security of being part of a team is the best. You don't feel so alone in things. You've got somebody to back you up. That's a good feeling."

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