Remember When Brad Paisley Dropped His Debut Single?
Brad Paisley dropped the title track of his debut album on Arista Nashville off at radio stations nationwide 23 years ago on Tuesday (Feb. 22). "Who Needs Pictures" was the then 26-year-old singer's introduction and his very first taste of commercial success.
The song is a ballad that looks back on a relationship gone wrong. It relies on old '90s touchstones, including memories of Kodak cameras and pictures stored on old dusty shelves instead of on phones or hard drives. Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers helped Paisley pen the song. During promotion for the Who Needs Pictures album, the young singer revealed it came from a conversation they had during a one-week writing retreat at Rogers' home in South Carolina. Rogers picked up an old camera with film in it.
"We kind of talked about how if the film contained images of someone that you maybe miss or someone that you've lost," Paisley says, "then what's the point of getting it developed because anything that comes back ... probably doesn't compare to how you remember it."
The music video for "Who Needs Pictures" makes the song a clear heartbreaker, with a young woman starring as the singer's love interest. "Who needs pictures / With a memory like mine," he croons at the chorus. While not a signature song for Paisley — it didn't crack the Top 10 at Billboard's Country Airplay chart — the ballad allowed him to become a much more dynamic singer and storyteller, much sooner than many new artists might have.
"He Didn't Have To Be" followed, becoming his first No. 1 hit and remaining one of his most appreciated two decades later. The rollicking "Me Neither" — written on the way home from that writing retreat reached the Top 20 and then "We Danced" became Paisley's first hit love song.
A year after the release of "Who Needs Pictures," Paisley would become the ACM's Top New Male Vocalist and win the CMA Horizon Award. Within five years he'd be a country radio mainstay, and it all started on this date 23 years ago, with a song about an old roll of film.