Backstage Pass

Music, concerts, musicians and more.

+-

'Accidental Racist:' Brad Paisley not explaining very well

Country star Brad Paisley. (June 9, 2011)

Country star Brad Paisley. (June 9, 2011) (Credit: AP)

Brad Paisley isn’t doing too well at explaining his new duet with LL Cool J “Accidental Racist.”

The controversial song, from his new album “Wheelhouse” out Tuesday, centers around Paisley wanting to be able to wear his Confederate flag T-shirt and have it represent Lynyrd Skynyrd and not the states that went to war to continue slavery. (I am not making this up.)

“I'm proud of where I'm from, but not everything we've done,” Paisley sings. “And it ain't like you and me can rewrite history.”

Paisley and LL Cool J are trying to promote tolerance and open a discussion about race relations with the song, but its clunkiness has served as a lightning rod for controversy. (Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted “I can't wait for Brad Paisley & LL Cool J's next single: ‘Whoopsy Daisy, Holocaust, My Bad.’ ”)

However, Paisley’s explanations aren’t really helping him out.

“I don't know if any of you noticed, but there is some racial tension, here and there,” he tells Ellen DeGeneres for an interview airing Tuesday. “It kind of deals with that and I felt like when we were writing this song it wasn't necessarily up to the media. I don't really trust sort of, I guess, Hollywood ... or anything like that to deal with that anymore. I think it's music's turn to have the conversation.”

He concludes with: “Make your own mind up. That's fine. You can throw things at me.”

His explanation to Entertainment Weekly, though, is even more confusing. “It’s such a complicated issue — I’m reading up on it now, [since] I felt I needed to be well-armed for any discussion – and here he is in a Yankees cap, and you think to yourself, ‘Well here is the antithesis of what was the problem,’” Paisley writes. “But it’s not. New York City was all for slavery. They actually voted 60 percent against — or maybe 70 against — Abraham Lincoln because they didn’t like the idea of slavery going away because there goes cotton and there goes tobacco trade, you know what I mean? It’s very hypocritical to feel like it’s just the South’s fault.”

Never mind that the Yankees cap represents a baseball team and not states that fought in a war to protect slavery. Never mind that Paisley is actually from West Virginia, which actually seceded from Virginia because its residents did not want to stand with the Confederacy. Actually, never mind that Paisley didn’t really think this through very well.

The song's full lyrics, via lyricsmode.com:

"To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an 'ol can of worms
Lookin' like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view

I'm just a white man comin' to you from the southland
Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
We're still pickin' up the pieces, walkin' on eggshells, fightin' over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We're still siftin' through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin
But it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin

'Cause I'm a white man livin' in the southland
Just like you I'm more than what you see
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
And we're still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you're livin' in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin' doesn't mean I'm up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I'm still misunderstood
I wasn't there when Sherman's March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could
Feel like a new fangled Django, dodgin' invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I'm thinkin' it's not all good
I guess we're both guilty of judgin' the cover not the book
I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here

I'm just a white man
(If you don't judge my do-rag)
Comin' to you from the southland
(I won't judge your red flag)
Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from
(If you don't judge my gold chains)
But not everything we've done
(I'll forget the iron chains)
It ain't like you and me can re-write history
(Can't re-write history baby)

Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin')
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly I'm a black Yankee but I've been thinkin' about this lately)
I'm a son of the new south
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that's left is southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)
It's real, it's real
It's truth"

Do you think the song is offensive? Tell us in the poll below.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

@ndmusic

Follow Newsday music writer Glenn Gamboa for the latest from pop's biggest voices.
Twitter | Blog

Follow Newsday Entertainment

advertisement | advertise on newsday