Brad Paisley “Steals” White House Swag
Brad Paisley visited the White House last week -- and he's got the paper towels to prove it.
In a blog for CNN.com, Brad writes: "Maybe they just don't care about napkins and ashtrays, because they certainly didn't say anything when we walked out with them! My wife [actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley] did get a couple of towels -- not the hand towels, but the paper towels that are stamped with the seal -- she got a couple of those."
And even though the White House staff didn't seem to mind that the Paisleys walked out with a few souvenirs during their visit on Tuesday, Brad admits that he hopes they were at least aware of it.
"You can't go anywhere in the White House without them taking your picture -- probably without your even knowing it. I hope that's the case. I want to think they're watching you in there."
"Everybody's a groupie in the White House. Everybody!," he adds. "I think if George Bush went back to visit, he [would] go, 'Hmm ... let me take some of these napkins.' There's something about the White House. You've got to have swag from there if you can get it."
Brad has been to the White House a handful times, but he notes this was the first time he was asked to pick up an instrument and play there -- performing four songs and joining fellow Opry member Alison Krauss at a music workshop for students earlier that day. And while he's well-known for his sense of humor, Brad couldn't help but contemplate the deeper significance of performing there for the Obama family and how the event fits into his already blessed career.
"Ironically, I read this story just last week on CNN about Michelle Obama's great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, who was a slave in South Carolina," he writes. "It's insane to think about that. How the world has changed. On November 4 [Election Day], I felt an emotion like I haven't felt in my entire life. I think whoever you voted for, you had to be moved. My grandfather was in the Philippines fighting against the Japanese during World War II -- and now I record for Sony and played Japan twice on tour, and loved every minute. If you'd go back in time and tell my grandfather during air raid sirens, 'Hang on there. Your grandson -- they're gonna love him,' he never would have believed it.
During the introduction to 'Welcome to the Future,' from his chart-topping album, 'American Saturday Night,' Brad addressed the President directly, saying, "I think about my kids and this generation, and you are the first president they're going to remember."
The song's last verse -- about a black high school student who has a cross burned in his yard for asking out the homecoming queen -- references the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Brad admits that while he was singing it, "It was everything I could do not to lose it. I had to close my eyes, or I would completely break down. Because in sound check at three in the afternoon, I started crying. I couldn't sing it."
After finishing the live performance, Brad says he tipped his hat, said, "Thank you, sir," to the President, then walked offstage and "just started bawling."
Brad adds that the event was "one of the most completely, artistically satisfying moments I've ever had."
And even though he probably doesn't know much about country music -- having been born in Hawaii and raised in Chicago -- the President's aides told Brad that he was was going to download some of his music.
"I don't know if he will," Brad writes. "But I hope he remembers to do that. I could make him a playlist, if he'd like."