Brad Paisley won the Top Male Vocalist of the Year award at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas Sunday evening, winning the coveted prize for the fifth consecutive year. But that was just the icing on the evening’s cake. What was the cake? Opening the 46th Annual ACM Awards with his new single, “Old Alabama,” and getting to perform it with the legendary Alabama.
As he does with much of his music, Paisley adds a touch of humor to his new offering. “Old Alabama” is a song about a girl whose lovemaking moods are dependent on hearing old Alabama songs. With lines built from Alabama’s classic songs “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight,” and “Tennessee River,” Paisley tells how his down home country girlfriend can’t keep her hands off of him as long as she hears the iconic country band’s music. Why, even Sinatra, Coltrane, the Righteous Brothers, and Barry White can’t get this girl in the mood. But hearing “Why Baby Why” will.
Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook stepped out on stage for the second verse, guitars in hand, the familiar “Alabama” logo blazing overhead. The Las Vegas audience gave them a standing ovation and clapped and sang along to the guys, singing the chorus of “Mountain Music” until Paisley stepped back in to finish his song.
Nobody sat back down.
That was the cake. Winning the Top Male Vocalist of the Year Award was the icing.
The appearance was Alabama’s first since they did their “Farewell Tour” back in 2004. Although they have not stopped working (they’ve released two inspirational albums and Randy Owen released a solo effort), they have effectively stopped touring.
While they were at their peak, which encompassed over two decades of recording and touring, the band enjoyed success like no other band in country music history. They had 32 No. 1 hit songs, according to Billboard‘s charts (42 if songs that placed atop other charts like Cashbox are included). To date, they have sold 73 million albums worldwide. They were the ACM “Group of the Decade” for the ’80s and the Recording Industry Association of America named them the “Country Group of the Century” in 1999.
As for Paisley, over a dozen years ago, nobody outside of a few local bars and small venues around the northern panhandle area of West Virginia and in Nashville, Tenn., had ever heard the name “Brad Paisley.” But with the release of his first album, 1999’s “Who Needs Pictures,” all that suddenly changed.
Nine studio albums and a greatest hits collection later, along with 17 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Country Songs chart and a houseful of trophies from every major awards forum (including 14 ACM Awards), one would be hard pressed to find anyone who listens to country music or anyone associated with the music industry who does not recognize his name. Applauded as a singer, songwriter, and performer, it might be difficult to believe that he is just 38 years old — which means he may just be getting started.
And with the reception they got from the audience, Alabama might have received the incentive to get started again…
“46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards,” CBS Television
“The Alabama Band,” TheAlabamaBand.com
“Brad Paisley — Old Alabama (Live At The 46th Annual ACM Awards 2011),” YouTube.com