Brad Paisley’s new album Wheelhouse just hit stores today, and already one of the songs is causing controversy for its lyrics that attempt to address racial tensions in the South.

Called “Accidental Racist,” the song appears aimed at helping to bridge misunderstandings. The song starts out with a guy apologizing for the Confederate flag on his T-shirt to a a worker he encountered at the local Starbucks. As his protagonist sings, “when I put on that T-shirt, the only thing I meant to say, is I’m a Skynyrd fan.”

“I’m proud of where I’m from,” the chorus goes, “but not everything we’ve done.” And his protagonist does admit that he’s “got a lot to learn,” and ultimately, “I just want to make things right.”

In the back half of the song, guest artist LL Cool J steps in with a counterpoint to Brad’s “white cowboy hat” POV. LL’s lines include lyrics like, “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.”

And the point they seem to be trying to make is that judgement is a two-way street. As LL continues, “When I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinking it’s not all good/I guess we’re both guilty of judging the cover and not the book.”

Brad wrote the song with Lee Miller. “We were talking about Southern pride,” he says in the promotional video about the song that was provided to, “and how far we’ve come, and racism… and things also feel like maybe they aren’t better yet.”

Ultimately, Brad calls the song “one of my proudest moments as a songwriter.”

In a recent interview, LL echoed the love for Brad and “Accidental Racist.” “You know, working with Brad was amazing,” he said, going on to explain that he thinks the song is “very thought provoking and very interesting. It’s going to get a lot of attention. But we did something that was really cool.”

LL goes on to say that Brad returned the favor and played on his record as well. But he was clear, he wasn’t looking for just “a gimmicky thing.” Instead, he simply finds Brad to be a great musician.

Brad Paisley’s Wheelhouse hits stores and digital outlets on April 9.


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