.
April 9th, 2013
02:18 PM ET

Opinion: Brad Paisley's risky song on race

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - In 2009, Brad Paisley released the song "Welcome to the Future" from his album "American Saturday Night."

In it, he sings about all the cultural changes he's witnessed in his life, including the evolving demographics of the country. He includes glowing references to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The election of Barack Obama inspired him to write it.

It's important to keep all of that in mind because for some, Paisley's latest song, "Accidental Racist," is making him look like an intentional one. I am reminded of an adage (but with a twist): No good ditty goes unpunished.

"Accidental" attempts to address a subject matter so few artists in country music are willing to do, which makes Paisley a brave man in so many ways.

Country music fans are notorious for excommunicating those whom they perceive as undesirable (see Wright, Chely). Despite Paisley's immense popularity, if he makes one misstep, everything could be snatched away. And attempting to bring a blue state conversation to red state radio could be one of those missteps.

"I'm not proud that people's ancestors were beaten and held in bondage," Paisley told USA Today. "But I am sure as heck proud of the farm I live on and the Confederate soldier buried there."

Infusing such a dichotomy into a song can be powerful. Unfortunately, "Accidental" sucks as a song. The chorus reeks like a '90s boy band ballad.

But its greatest sin is that in Paisley's effort to push for racial harmony, it miscasts the country's racial tension - with emphasis on the Confederate flag and Abraham Lincoln - as a distant thing of the past. A relic.

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: Race • What we think
Brad Paisley and LL Cool J team up for 'Accidental Racist'
April 9th, 2013
09:00 AM ET

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J team up for 'Accidental Racist'

(CNN) - Brad Paisley and LL Cool J broach sensitive topics in their new collaboration, "Accidental Racist," and it's left some critics hoping the entire song was an accident.

The track is part of Paisley's new album, "Wheelhouse," and was sparked by the reaction the country star said he received after he wore a shirt with the Confederate flag on it to showcase his adoration for the band Alabama.

“I was called a racist on Twitter for that,” Paisley told The Tennessean. “That was the beginning of this song: Me thinking, ‘Am I a racist? Is that all it takes?’"

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: History • How we live • Race