The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


October 8, 2012

Jeremiah Tucker: Paisley's newest song expands country's reach

JOPLIN, Mo. — In the past Brad Paisley specialized in clever, if somewhat corn pone, novelty songs about wanting to search women for ticks and first-person accounts of the world as experienced by anthropomorphic alcohol.

Beginning in 2009 with “Welcome to the Future,” a song written in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama that never mentions Obama by name, and “American Saturday Night,” Paisley began to focus more on sweeping anthems engineered for stadiums but focused on the sociology of America.

“Southern Comfort Zone” -- his latest single, co-written with collaborators Kelley Lovelace and Chris DuBois and released last week -- begins with a medley of sound clips from “The Andy Griffith Show,” Jeff Foxworthy and the Grand Ole Opry over some wistful violin and acoustic guitar that, for someone not on board with Paisley’s brand of nostalgia and earnestness, could sound corny. Paisley loved Griffith. He prominently featured the TV star, who died earlier this year, in his 2008 single “Waitin’ on a Woman.”

It’s a shaky beginning. Then the song does something pretty interesting.

It acknowledges there is a world bigger than the one generally found in country music -- the one where life happens exclusively in small towns, on farms and at the end of dirt roads.

“Not everybody owns a gun, wears a ball cap, boots and jeans,” Paisley sings.

From anyone other than Paisley, this would sound like a sneering lecture.

Paisley roots the song in his homesickness for the South -- a common country trope -- except instead of reporting back about the shortcomings and depravity of the wider world, he describes its wonders.

He sings of walking “the streets of Rome,” kissing “a West Coast girl underneath the northern light” and being in places where no one understands him. He sings that he knows what it’s like “to take a good hard look around and be a minority.”

Paisley sings of missing his home, but admits, “I can’t see this world unless I go outside my Southern comfort zone.” It’s a subtle, deft way to make a case for empathy, which in an election year is a powerful message, if a somewhat dangerous one for a country superstar whose base is used to being pandered to by anyone considered one of their own.

“Southern Comfort Zone” debuted at No. 25 on Billboard’s country chart, and it will be interesting to see how it does considering “Welcome to the Future” broke Paisley’s streak of 10 No. 1 country singles by peaking at No. 2. Whereas pop music is more topsy-turvy and digital sales and streaming can propel indie songs to the top of the charts, country remains a genre where radio matters.

Luckily, the song sounds like a smash, propelled by a driving, rock ’n’ roll drum beat that, when combined with a church choir and a string arrangement that could’ve been lifted from the latest Coldplay record, gives the song a huge sound. When it careens right over the edge of good taste -- as it possibly does when that church choir booms “I wish I was in Dixie again” as Paisley solos furiously on his guitar -- it does so at least with a grin on its face.

If “Southern Comfort Zone” isn’t a big hit for Paisley, I suspect it won’t be its message of expanded horizons that sinks it. It may just be too weird for modern country radio.

Its ambition also will be anathema to country purists who feel the genre began to go downhill the moment Hank Williams drank himself to death, but this song isn’t aimed at the calcified and dead-hearted. Paisley spent years punching the clock and building a huge reservoir of goodwill, so God bless him for deciding to spend it on as grandiose a dream as making country’s tent a little bigger.

Text Only
  • Wichita.jpg Going Western: Indie film 'Wichita' to show tonight at MSSU

    Nicholas Burton isn't exactly raising a cash cow on his livestock ranch. But the Wichita, Kan.-based filmmaker has an advantage over other film producers: Westerns are in high demand, and he's in the perfect spot to make them.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041114_pajama game.jpg Love, labor liven up JHS musical 'Pajama Game'

    The spring musical put on by the Joplin High School Theatre Department deals with a labor of love among a labor dispute.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MSSU choir, orchestra combines for performance of legendary 'Carmina Burana'

    The free performance is a joint effort between the Southern Symphonic Chorus, which is composed of the MSSU Concert Chorale and volunteer singers, and the orchestra, which is made up of Missouri Southern students, faculty and professionals from the community.

    April 11, 2014

  • 1520face.JPG Globe Phone Test: Nokia Lumia 1520's outstanding camera offset by frustrating OS

    On Monday, news broke that flight attendants aboard Delta Airlines flights would receive Nokia Lumia 1520 devices in October. The devices will have flight manuals, support on-board sales, allow attendants to process credit card payments and crapcan heavy 500-page manuals they used have to bring.

    The move is similar to how American Airlines attendants were give Galaxy Note phablets. Because Delta already gave attendants similar smartphones, it's reasonable to assume that the company places a lot of faith in the Windows Phone system.

    But Delta's choice of device is puzzling because the 1520 is better suited to take photos and videos of people on board an airplane, not take their drink and meal orders. And because the device is so big, I'm not sure how flight attendants would feel carrying it around in a cramped flight.


    As the iOS and Android systems struggle for the top smartphone operating system, Microsoft's Windows Phone has scratched its way into the No. 3 spot, pushing past BlackBerry. Nokia, once one of the top names in devices, is pairing with Microsoft to make a device that features an incredible camera. The company already made the Lumia 1020, which features a humongous 41-megapixel camera that does amazing things.

    The Lumia 1520 is its biggest offering to date. The device, available exclusively from AT&T, is one of the biggest phablet-style phones on the market today. For about 10 days, I tested out a black-colored device provided by AT&T.


    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Kurt Cobain likely would have thrived in today's music scene

    I have no memory of the day he died. A friend asked me about this recently, and I said at that age -- I would've been 13 -- I was probably still rocking my cassingle of the Escape Club's "Wild Wild West." Needless to say, my middle school years were rough.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_108172906 Benji Tunnell: 'Winter Soldier' sets a high bar for summer movie season

    If a film was truly great, it would be held until June or July. Or so the thinking might have been before the release last week of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marta-mug.jpg Marta Churchwell: Joplin mural part of Benton's larger message

    Recently, I received information on Joplin's celebration of one of its native sons, Thomas Hart Benton. In observance of the artist's 125th birthday, City Hall will host a collection of his works alongside his mural that honors Joplin history.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 040814 Worldfest.jpg World Fest pairs well with Celebrate America

    The Slinkerds think Silver Dollar City's World Fest is a great opportunity to show their young children other cultures and introduce them to people from around the world.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ka-Pow! New attraction offers free-fall plunge

    On May 17, two brave souls willing to whether mid-May¹s unpredictable weather will climb into the two drop-floor aqua-launch capsules atop KaPau Plummet.

    April 11, 2014 1 Slideshow

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Letterman performance gives deserved boost to Future Islands

    It's hard to believe an appearance on a late-night talk show can still make a band's career. It's such a common occurrence and the cultural currency of the late-night format has dropped so much in recent years that, short of literally setting the stage ablaze or stabbing the host, the most a band could hope for is a couple of polite blog notices.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo


In an effort to curb prostitution, St. Louis police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the "johns" who use the services. Postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date. Do you think this is a good approach?

A. Yes.
N. No.
     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers