Brad Paisley is one of the most accomplished musicians in country music today, but he must have thought he was in guitar heaven recording his new album, 'Play.' The country superstar found himself jamming with some of the best players in the business, including B.B. King, Keith Urban, James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee and Steve Wariner.

Paisley talked to The Boot about some very poignant moments during the recording of the 16-song, mostly instrumental album. But he confesses he didn't do a lot of homework going into the project.

"There was probably way less planning on this album than I've ever put into a project," he admits to The Boot. "All we knew going in was that there would be a lot of songs without words. It also gave me a chance to do different styles that I couldn't get away with as a singer and a commercial artist."

One of the album's "goosebump" moments came when Paisley and Wariner came together to record 'More Than Just This Song,' which is a tribute to their individual guitar teachers.

"My verse of the song was written about my guitar teacher, Clarence 'Hank' Goddard," Paisley says. "I got the flu in March and I had a 102 temperature, so I slept for three days, and in the midst of this fevered state, I came up with the words, 'I met this angel with callused hands.' I sang it into my computer and then went back to sleep. I found out later my teacher died the night I had the idea for the song.

"Steve, who is a huge influence on me, has a similar story to mine about his guitar teacher. You know my story -- as a teenage boy I was taking guitar lessons and allowed into this band by a much older and wiser guitar hero. Steve has the same story, but the man who taught him was Chet Atkins."

Paisley wrote the first verse and chorus and then went to Wariner to help him finish writing the song. They set a date to record and in the meantime, Paisley's father brought him Goddard's guitar. So he decided to use it on the song, while Wariner planned to play one of Atkins' guitars.

"On the day of the session, Steve brought in Chet's guitar and I brought in Hank's guitar and we sat them down in the room. As I was opening the case, I told Steve to check it out because Hank had this old Gibson. When I opened the case, the bulletin from his funeral service was laying on the top of the guitar. Steve opened the case with Chet's guitar and said, 'You are not going to believe this.' Steve was the music director for Chet's funeral, and on top of that guitar was the bulletin from Chet's service at the Ryman. So here we sit with the cases open and the bulletins for both funerals are on top of the guitars. It was really weird; you get chills all over you. It was one of those moments that just felt very poetic. I cried the first few times I heard the song because I thought about Hank and how he would have loved it."

Paisley had another emotional moment when he recorded 'Come On In,' the track that features the late Buck Owens. He says it's one of his high points as a recording artist.

"Buck and I were fast friends, and I loved him," Paisley says. "Buck is the one who did an instrumental album ... In fact, he was the last artist in our genre to have a number one hit with an instrumental."

Although the two had done some recording together when Owens was alive, Paisley didn't think any of it would fit the current album. He called the Owens family to see if there was anything else they had on tape that might work for a posthumous duet.

"They sent me this song called 'Come on In,' and when I heard it I instantly thought that it was a duet ... So I sang to his harmony parts so that he's singing harmony with me, and then I sang harmony with him. Plus that's him playing the mandolin solo and the dobro fills."

Paisley is equally proud of his recording with Urban. The two have been friends since the early days of their careers, and it was just assumed that the guitar slingers would one day record together. When the opportunity came with this album, Brad admits they had to decide if they were going to battle it out with guitar solos or do something really fun and different.

"It's a wonderful thing to finally get to do this with Keith," Paisley says. "When I called him I said I had a couple ideas for what we could do. One of them was just go write a real fast guitar instrumental and try to blow people's minds. The other was this song about starting a band that was pitched for my last record that I didn't cut. I told him the words to 'Start A Band' and sent it to him. He cracked up when he heard it because we've both been through this so much in our lives, just our attempts to be cool as guitar players you know, and wanting to fit in."

One of the factors in cutting 'Start A Band' was that the two entertainers felt that their fans don't just want to hear them play together, they want to hear them harmonize as well. There was also another factor that Paisley considered when recording with Urban.

"I couldn't finally get the chance to play with Keith and do just some obscure artsy thing that no one was going to appreciate. I was like, 'Let's do something really cool that people are going to talk about and want to hear.' So we went in and had fun and he worked his butt off on that song. He spent all day doing harmony parts with his guitar and came up with lines I never would have had on that chorus ... He's a very lyrical player so don't be surprised on my next album when you see his name in the credits playing on it because he comes up with parts I would never think of. We're looking forward to all kinds of stuff where there might lead."

Paisley says one of the cool things about 'Play' is that it allowed him to step outside of country just a bit with the instrumentals. There are sounds that run the gamut from old surf songs like The Ventures would do, to the blues notes of B.B. King. Paisley actually went to Las Vegas to record 'Let The Good Times Roll' with King.

"We'd already cut the track, but B.B. shows up with Lucille and holds court. He just walks in the room and starts telling jokes. It reminded me so much of Jimmy Dickens. He was just such a charming man and he kind of started off a little less blue than he ended up, you know. He was abbreviating words and things and I said, 'You don't have to abbreviate with us. We can take it.' And then he went into the full blown jokes and he was so charming and it was an experience."

Paisley wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on 'Play,' including 'Huckleberry Jam,' a tribute to his son, and 'Kim' for his wife. He also includes an instrumental version of his signature hymn, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' along with the special version of 'Waitin' on a Woman' that features vocals by Andy Griffith. There's also a guest rap by Snoop Dogg on 'Kentucky Jelly.'

While Paisley already has a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental for 'Throttleneck, there's no doubt some of the tunes off this project will end u
p in this year's nominations. "I wanted to make a record that my fans who largely probably don't buy instrumental albums will still enjoy and still like to go down the road listening to," Paisley says. "So we tried to still be artistic but at the same time rein that in just enough to appeal to the general public."

Paisley 's 'Play' is an Election Day release. While Brad wants everyone to get out and vote, he also urges, "After you vote, go on down and buy a copy of 'Play'."

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title:['Brad Paisley'],
credit:['Jason Squires, WireImage'],
caption:['Brad Paisley performs at Sprint Center on August 1, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri.'],