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Story Behind the Song: Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, ‘Whiskey Lullaby’

Bill Anderson and Jon Randall co-wrote Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss‘ hit duet “Whiskey Lullaby.” The song was released in March of 2004 as the third single off of Paisley’s Mud on the Tires album and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been certified double platinum and won Song of the Year at the 2005 CMA Awards. Below, Anderson tells The Boot how the song came to be.

Jon Randall and I wrote the song together. Jon was going through some pretty rough times back then: He had gotten a divorce and lost his writing deal and his record deal all within just a day or two of each other. And he went over to a friend’s house and crashed for a couple of weeks.

When he decided to sober up and come back and join the living again, he apologized to his friend. He said, “Man, I’m sorry for the way I’ve acted the last couple of weeks.” And his friend said to him, “That’s alright, Jon; I’ve put the bottle to my head and pulled the trigger a few times in my life.” So when Jon came to the writing session, that was fresh on his mind.

I went to the writing session with the idea to write a song called “Midnight Cigarette.” Basically, that turned out to be the first line of “Whiskey Lullaby”: “She put him out like the burnin’ end of a midnight cigarette.” That was what I wanted to write the whole song about.

Jon loved that line, so we wrote it down, and then he said, “Here’s a line here: ‘He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.’

I said, “Well, let’s forget about the “Midnight Cigarette.” Man, you’ve got the perfect idea for the song there.'”

And it just kind of flowed [from] there.

This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.

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