Friday, August 20th, 2010

Brad Paisley – Water

And so obviously he’s got a new single coming out now, but leaving this behind just would not feel right…


David Raposa: Given the sneak peek offered by the comments on the OTHER notable country single about the wonders of H2O (wherefore art thou, Insane Clown Posse?), I’ve a feeling my fellow ‘Boxers are going to be more magnanimous about this tune than me. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t strike me as the wistful song about days gone by that Paisley wants it to be, though it begins that way. However, what starts off in Dad’s kiddie pool ends up at a wet T-shirt contest and/or a game of Truth or Dare with the Girl Next Door that turns into a little skinny dip faster than you can say, “Dear Penthouse.” And maybe the detour into Brahville, where beer is beer and men are men and women are window dressing, wouldn’t bug me so much if Paisley and pals weren’t selling this shit like straight-up wholesome summertime fun for the whole family. Or maybe I’m reading too much into a song co-written by a 38-year-old father of two that focuses more on the fleeting indiscretions of youth than the thoughts of a grown man passing his “love affair” with water onto his own children.

Rebecca Toennessen: Aww, I really like this. The steady honkytonk guitar, plucky banjo and silly, self-aware lyrics. When the fiddle comes in, I had to do a little dance around the room. I love the idea of grabbing someone you wanna see ina bathing suit and driving out til the map turns blue. Just the right side of country-rock cheese.

Martin Skidmore: I’m not sure we need a song in praise of water, really — this is mostly obvious stuff, and I really could do without wet t-shirt contests as a reason to love water. The playing is tedious mid-tempo country rock, but his singing is entirely pleasant. Apart from that one moment that made me cringe, it’s sort of okay.

Alfred Soto: I love the sheer weirdness of this track: a song whose stress falls on water, a nostalgia piece that’s funny and true while avoiding any trace of ick. To the boys in Dinosaur Pile-Up: please note Paisley’s brawny guitar solo. If American Saturday Night had included sixteen more of these, it’d be the greatest album in history.

Anthony Easton: Brad Paisley is better than this — the lyrics are hackneyed, and the guitar, while having a bit more of the picking than other bands, is bland.

Chuck Eddy: I’m certainly sympathetic to ex-Brad-fan George Smith’s conclusion (mainly based on the “Welcome To The Future” video, I think) that Paisley’s embrace of newly global-corporate-marketed electronic communication-entertainment gadgets is hardly populist in a country fast forfeiting its middle class, thus making it impossible for most people (and presumably, most country fans) to afford such luxuries. But damn does the guy ever stumble on some excellent jangling melodies lately anyway. And this song’s personalization of one of the four classical elements via one dude’s frequently sexy evolving love affair thereof borders on the mythic (or might, if I was Greil Marcus). Only complaint: By far the two best punchlines — “dad’s hot air” and “big old wuss,” both worthy of Chuck Berry — are frontloaded.

Michaelangelo Matos: “All you need this time of year/Is a pair of shades and an ice-cold beer.” So yeah, it’s a single for reasons of expediency. Still very good, though; I look forward to his continuing in this vein with the other elements.

12 Responses to “Brad Paisley – Water”

  1. For almost a year this has been my favorite song on the album.

  2. To the boys in Dinosaur Pile-Up: please note Paisley’s brawny guitar solo.

    soto plz

  3. He’s right. I didn’t hate that Dino Pile-Up track, but if those guys want to play rock music, which they sound like they might, studying modern country couldn’t hurt. (Also agree that this is one of the album’s best songs.)

  4. One of my favorite observations about Paisley is that his songs are basically lists. This list isn’t as good as “Alcohol” was. The album has better than this as well: the title track and “Future,” of course, but also “Then,” “Oh Yeah, You’re Gone,” etc. but it’s a fair bit of fun, and it’s got more fun as it’s got more popular. (I guess the same way splashing around in a lake is better if you’re not the only one doing it?)

  5. Sorry I missed this; I’ll just note in retrospect that the wet-T-shirt contest in the narrative timeline represents a Sexual Awakening for the narrator, which I can get behind much more than Paisley as a grown man who still thinks they’re a good idea.

  6. “Good idea” is beside the point, no? He’s telling us how water was put to use as a kid, teen, and college guy. From the way he inflects every epoch of his life in the same manner, it’s all grist for songwriting.

  7. I mean, we have experiences, some of which felt marvelous at the time, and are thus worth eulogizing; that’s how “Water” signifies. Paisley’s a conventionally complicated guy: he creates a hellion who is, of course, happily tamed by marriage, yet discovers, if a song like “She’s Her Own Woman” is true, that your wife can be the most mysterious and unpredictable thing you’ve ever met.

  8. i don’t adore this song the way alfred does, but the songs i initially liked better on the album – the title track and “welcome to the future” – have suffered a little with time for being so didactic. really the only thing that stops them from being sanctimonious is the incredible skill with which they’re structured, lyrically (and the guitar solos and his perpetually audible grin help.) “water” isn’t like that at all, and the lyrics are technically as flawless. there’s no point in complaining about the wet t-shirt contest (even if wet t-shirt contests are indeed reprehensible, which is a memo i hadn’t received) because it is very clearly #3 in a chronological list of Moments Of Grace, all of which are trivial, at least one of which is “merely” concupiscent, and all of which happen to have involved the same substance. the song’s joke is that all of these different Ms of G are linked through the happy convenience of water’s being the most common substance on the planet. this is extremely far above politics and furrowed brows.

  9. Had to go back to this, had trouble recalling it. Good chord changes–minor chords, blocky modulations, what you call sus4 chords beginning the whole thing. Skillful enough in touching all the bases but basically a stupid-smart song. “Drive until the map turns blue” is a nice touch from a guy who you know uses the best electronic doohickey money can buy. And really, money is required, not water, for all the things he’s talking, as George might agree with. I hear it as a somewhat half-assed song about leaving childhood behind that discounts the side of materialism that isn’t liquid. And I think Paisley is a great guitarist but his actual musical ideas are kinda samey, not very different from what the average great session dude in Nashville could lay down every day of his life. But some real nice indirection in the first solo, got to admit, and I do like the end, where the 4/4 settles down under the pedal steel solo, and the little bit the song fades on seems like a cool bit of seemingly unnecessary but very suggestive material. What’s wrong with this if anything is, is the way Paisley coasts on his considerable charm; plus, part of what critics love about him is his gnomic sense of the language relative to the wordiness of most country songwriting…

  10. part of what critics love about him is his gnomic sense of the language relative to the wordiness of most country songwriting


  11. For some reason I always like when songs build in an obvious this-will-sound-great-at-a-summertime-concert moment, like this song’s part at the end about “ice cold beer”, where you can just the masses lifting their $8 bud lights in the air and singing along.

  12. chronological list of Moments Of Grace…all of which happen to have involved the same substance

    Exactly, and I’m starting to think this is probably not a really uncommon structure for a country song — sort of building on the chronological “It Was A Very Good Year”/”Running On Empty” template, but revolving around some mundane everyday thing. I’m sure other examples will come to mind, but I just came across another real good one this week, on John Conlee’s 1986 Harmony LP, called “Cars.”