“All I Wanted Was a Car”: Brad Paisley on Country Music, Corvettes, and Running from the Cops


by John Pearley Huffman as republished from Car and Driver
Brad Paisley Loves Corvettes

Dateline November 2015: C/D: Your tour bus is painted like a 1958–62 Corvette.

BP: I have a lot of things painted like that, with the Corvette cove. My guitar room at the studio is an entire room painted red with a giant 12-foot Corvette cove where the guitars hang. You’d love it. That might be the most attractive and iconic design for a vehicle ever. There’s no doubt what that is when you see it.

paisley's bus

C/D: And you’re buddies with NASCAR team owner and mega-dealer Rick Hendrick?

BP: He’s generous and giving, and he doesn’t allow me to just get a car without getting his people to fix it up. I’ve got a ZR1 from 2011 that he went nuts on. Jimmie Johnson’s team brought it into their shop and got it up to 770 [horsepower] or so at the flywheel.

C/D: Many of your songs and albums have car-related titles.

BP: Including the latest one. In the interview request, you mentioned “All I Wanted Was a Car,” which is a really obscure album cut. I’ve always loved that song and the idea that, in our culture, the car is a catalyst for so many things. The car is almost clothing in America—especially in Middle America—in a way that it isn’t in other countries. I’m such an oddball that when I meet people I’ll say, “What do you drive?”


Brad Paisley performs on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ at Rockefeller Plaza on September 4, 2015 in New York City.

C/D: What was your first car?

BP: I’m the son of the son of a Pontiac salesman. My dad, working for his dad, was a Pontiac guy. And I was raised that way so that by the time I could get a car, I didn’t just want something that would roll. The first one for me was a Chevy Cavalier.

C/D: Ewww!

BP: But it was great because it was $2000, and I saved up to get it because I played a lot of music in my home area. Christmastime was always a bunch of solo acoustic gigs, and they’d pay you $200 or $300 for a couple hours to stand there and sing. My next car, the car I drove to Nashville, was a Pontiac Firebird.


C/D: Your dad is still into cars?

BP: It’s a terrible business model, because what happens is that I’ll get a Corvette and drive it for a few years and then they come out with some new model. So I’ll decide to sell the old one and he’ll say: “Hey, I’ve wanted to talk to you about that. I’ve grown kind of attached to that car. I’d like to buy it from you.” I’m not going to sell my dad a car, after he put me through college. So he has three Corvettes because he’s told me he’s attached to them. When your father says he loves a car, you give it to him.

C/D: What’s the greatest driving song of all time?

BP: I would say “East Bound and Down” [by Jerry Reed, from the Smokey and the Bandit soundtrack]. You can’t listen to that and not go a little faster.


C/D: A lot of guitar players are into cars.

BP: There’s a reason Fender started painting Stratocasters Fiesta Red back in the ’50s and ’60s. And there’s a reason why they’re shaped the way they’re shaped. I like to play fast, and I like to play loud. It’s the same thing as a muscle car.

C/D: Have you ever run from the cops, as in “Mr. Policeman”?

BP: Yeah, I did. In college I was going too fast on a big, curvy mountain road that goes to West Liberty University in West Virginia, and I crested one of the hills and I got air. And in the left lane was a car and I could see its police lights. The speed limit was like 45, and I was going probably 80. Immediately his brake lights came on and he was turning around. I could slow down and wait for the inevitable arrest or I could keep going. I kept going as fast as I could. Right before a 90-degree turn I slammed on the brakes, pulled into a driveway, and turned the lights off. Sure enough, 30 seconds later, the sky lights up and it’s the police car with sirens blaring. And he goes right by. After a few cars went by, I fired up my car and pulled out. Sure enough as I drove by he had pulled someone else over. Whatever the next car was.

C/D: Is there anything you’d do differently?

BP: I wouldn’t have tried to pull out onto Nolensville Pike in Nashville one night at midnight in the rain. That’s how my Firebird was totaled, hit by a black van whose lights weren’t on. I didn’t know I was hit until I was spinning. I would go back and say, “Don’t turn out of there.”

 Multiple Photographers Illustration By MARTIN SATI