“Our government blew an opportunity to give our veterans the medical attention and appreciation they deserve. I had the idea to write with John Fogerty, the voice of that generation of Vietnam veterans. He said ‘Love and War’ was his first co-write. I felt the pressure.”
2. TIMBALAND’S GRASSY RHYTHMS
“His instinct was that making hip-hop would be wrong in every way for me. So where do we gel best? He said, ‘Country and hip-hop come together in bluegrass,’ since it’s all about the rhythm. So in the studio, Timbaland’s beating on a banjo with a pair of brushes, and it sounds like a jug band. That’s what led to ‘Grey Goose Chase.’”
3. GUITAR HEROES
“I can’t play a solo without thinking about John Jorgenson. I always think about what he would do. And there’s a lot of personal things in the song ‘Last Time for Everything,’ like Little Jimmy [Dickens] on the Opry stage and seeing Glenn Frey [pictured] at The Forum.”
4. THE BIRTH OF HIS SECOND SON
“‘Today’ is about when Jasper was born. My wife [actress Kimberly Williams Paisley] had an emergency C-section, and I go from a birthing suite to scrubs and an operating table. Then I’m handed this child. There’s something about that moment I wouldn’t change for anything.”
This article originally appeared in the April 15 issue of Billboard.