Of all the songs on Brad Paisley’s new CD Wheelhouse, none is generating as much buzz as his duet with LL Cool J on “Accidental Racist.” In the song, the two each give their perspective on race relations, 150 years after the Civil War.
Much like in the song, Brad started thinking about the issue after he wore an Alabama t-shirt with a Confederate flag in the design into Starbucks. He was surprised to find out it offended the African-American barista.
“I’m the guy that kind of walks in sort of blindly wearing something that I never imagined was offensive,” he tells ABC News Radio.
Thinking about what happened, Brad came up with the idea to explore it in song. LL Cool J seemed like the perfect person to offer the alternate take on the issue.
“LL is one of the classiest people I’ve ever known, and when I wanted to have this discussion because I don’t know the answers to this…Having that conversation and asking that person, ‘How does this make you feel?’ and that’s what I got to do with him, when he was writing his verse.”
Brad recalls a very honest moment, when it came time for LL to write how cowboy hats and rebel flags make him feel.
“LL thought about it and he said, ‘You know, I think you wish I wasn’t here when I see that,' and it’s like, 'Well say that then, let’s hear it. Let’s hear what that’s like.'”
While Brad is quick to admit he doesn’t have the answers to the questions the song raises, he believes simply asking the question is the first step.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” he says, “but I know that asking the question of ‘How do we show our Southern pride and what do we do and how do we be sensitive?’ is the first step toward us all taking a big deep breath and going, ‘Alright let’s respect each other and figure this out.’”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio