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Catching up with Brad Paisley

The twangy Tennesseean talks about his unlikely new love song, ”Ticks”

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It’s a cardinal songwriting rule: Parasites and the hit parade don’t mix. Happily, country star Brad Paisley bowed to no such conventional wisdom while creating his new single, ”Ticks.” The tune isn’t about bloodsuckers, really, so much as the promise of bare skin, framed as a come-on to a woman in a bar: ”I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks/I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers/And I’d like to check you for ticks.” We see Grammys!

”I love that one of the unique areas country music writes about is the outdoors,” explains Paisley. ”You don’t hear many pop songs about going out in the woods.” Inspiration came via the tick-infested Tennessee spread he shares with actress wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim). ”I thought it’d be a cute line for the middle of a song about trying to get a city girl to like you. Then I thought, What if that’s the payoff?” Highly quotable lyrics (and Paisley’s hot, ”early Van Halen-influenced” rhythm-guitar licks) are making ”Ticks” an instant country-radio smash, with only ”a couple” of stations balking at the mild raciness.

”Ticks,” now streaming on Paisley’s MySpace page, will be on his June CD. If there’s a rash of arrests for nakedness in the woods, will he take the heat? ”Yes, sir. I’ll be proud of the movement I started.”