In Music

Paisley makes Milwaukee famous in country music

Milwaukee's reputation as the world's beer capital is making a comeback, in the country music charts of all places.

The chorus of Brad Paisley's song "Alcohol" from his new CD "Time Well Wasted" pays tribute to Milwaukee on what is one of the country music's hottest tunes right now. "Alcohol" is currently sixth on the Billboard country singles chart and quickly becoming a catchy sing-a-long anthem in local taverns.

Singing about alcohol in the first person, Paisley's chorus reads:

"And since the day I left Milwaukee,
Lynchburg and Bordeaux, France,
Been makin' the bars lots of big money,
And helpin' white people dance."

While some here cringe at the thought of any reference to Milwaukee and its brewing heritage these days, Milwaukee has certainly been held in worse company. For those not paying attention, Lynchburg, Tenn., is the home of Jack Daniels whiskey and Bordeaux is one of France's best-known wine regions. The rest of the song's lyrics are equally humorous and honest. Paisley, who rarely drinks, has come up the one of the more creative odes to liquor since the 1998 Barenaked Ladies song of the same name.

The Milwaukee reference in "Alcohol" is as much a tribute as it is just working with the song, according to Paisley's publicist Darlene Bieber.

"Milwaukee is very well known as a beer capitol," she says. "Personally, I think much more than St. Louis. I'm sure it had to do with name recognition and how it flowed with the chorus."

For all the irreverence of a song like "Alcohol," much of the rest of "Time Well Wasted" actually takes a more romantic and melancholy turn. Songs like "The World," "She's Everything," "Rainin' You" and "Waitin' On A Woman" take it easy while paying homage to women. Other ballads like "Flowers" and the spiritual "When I Get Where I'm Going," a duet with Dolly Parton, are reminiscent of country standards of Parton's era and beyond. Paisley even pays tribute the earliest days of country music with mono bluegrass sounds of "The Uncloudy Day."

While this is not the first time country music has memorialized Milwaukee's beer city reputation, it is likely the most popular. Some might remember an relatively obscure country hit recorded by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Rod Stewart entitled "What Made Milwaukee Famous Has Made A Loser Out Of Me."

Paisley's devilish side comes back through with songs like "You Need A Man Around Here" and "I'll Take You Back," which take their shots at relationships with women. While "Out In The Parking Lot" with Alan Jackson almost picks up where "Alcohol" left off, Paisley pokes fun at himself and the "easy" life of a country band with "Easy Money."

Paisley wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 16 tracks on "Time Well Wasted," including the almost jazz-influenced guitar instrumental "Time Warp." Ironically, he didn't write the title track "Time Well Wasted," another more traditional country ballad.

Finally, Paisley ends his "Time Well Wasted" with a tribute to the Grand Ole Opry with a humorous performance by legends Bill Anderson, George Jones, Little Jimmy Dickens and Parton on "Cornography."

"Time Well Wasted" is Paisley's fourth CD since 1999 and he seems to be clearly hitting his stride. He played the Wisconsin State Fair last month and while I couldn't attend, my guess is that more than a few of the locals joined in proudly on the first line of the chorus for "Alcohol."

Talkbacks

OMCreader | Sept. 7, 2005 at 12:30 p.m. (report)

Milwaukee Native said: I LOVE BEER!!

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OMCreader | Sept. 7, 2005 at 12:22 p.m. (report)

Brent said: Very nice article on a very talented performer. I enjoy all types of music but only certain parts of each type. Brad is certainly one of the parts of Country music I enjoy. If you have not heard the song 'alcohol' yet, I certainly recommend that you do. It will make you laugh and smile. It makes me laugh and smile and I'm a recovering alcoholic! Thanks for the article. It was nice to read some light hearted stuff for a change.

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