It's no secret to those who know me that I am a HUGE country music fan. I have been all my life, really. To quote a now old song, "I was country when country wasn't cool." To me, and to thousands of others, country music tells the stories of my life. Country music has nurtured me through bad relationships, it's helped me celebrate some of the high points of my life, and it's given voice to an untold myriad of emotions at various points throughout my misguided youth.
Country music has changed since I was a kid, and like most change, some of it's been good and some of it, in my judgment, has not. And, as long as I'm expressing myself, I'll just say that I'm not a fan of what has been called "hick-hop" and "bro-country." Song after song about drinking beer in my pickup truck while trolling through town on a Friday night with my hot girlfriend just doesn't do it for me. Nor, by the way, did the cheating songs that marked the country music of yesteryear.
In my mind, one of the very best country artists today is Brad Paisley. And before you rise up and call me a hypocrite, I know that Brad does drinking songs. To me though, Brad's songs are different from the hormonal teenage drinking songs that seem to dominate country music these days. Brad's songs are clever and humorous and strike a chord of authenticity in a way some of the others don't. Brad has a keen grasp on pop culture, and an uncanny way of writing and singing songs in a way that makes you go, "Yeah! That's so freaking true!" He continues to churn out a steady stream of cunningly satirical songs from a uniquely redneck perspective that refuse to sacrifice a catchy tune and pure unbridled fun just to provide some social commentary. But he also has a way of tapping into the deepest wells of human love and devotion to describe the desperate longing of a man for the love of his life. He clearly has his finger on the pulse on American pop culture and gives us songs that touch most of us (or at least just me) right where we live.
I appreciate Brad's emphasis on the song. In my view, a singer is always in service to the song. The song should always be the star, not the singer. I lose patience with singers who, in an effort to showcase their own abilities, overshadow the song rather than serve the song. I think Brad gets that. In fact, I know he gets that, because I've heard him talk about it. Brad Paisley is a consummate storyteller.
In the end, though, Brad's songs just make me feel good, which is all that really matters.
Oh, and he's also a wicked good guitar player. One of the best musicians working today, in fact. A musical craftsman. And he is my son's hero. A talented budding guitar player himself, my son sees Brad Paisley as Thor and the Telecaster as his hammer. So when we were in Lubbock over Christmas and saw the sign advertising that Brad would be coming to Lubbock in March, I spent money I didn't have and bought tickets immediately.
The concert was this past Saturday night at the United Supermarkets Arena at Texas Tech in Lubbock. As it turns out, it was the final night of Brad's Country Nation tour. Honestly, it was the best concert I've ever been to. It was fun, exciting, moving, and did I mention fun? It was a thrill ride from start to finish, and will go down as one of the most entertaining nights of my life.
Of course I took my camera. ;-) And so with a few of my favorites, let me give you a small visual taste of what we experienced on Saturday night. I make no claim to being a concert photographer, and was only shooting for myself on Saturday night. But trust me when I say the pictures don't do the show justice. Thank you, Brad, and please keep doing what you're doing!