Brad Paisley explains 'Accidental Racist' lyrics on 'Ellen': 'There is some racial tension, here and there'

brad-paisley-accidental-racist-ellen-degeners.jpg Brad Paisley's latest single, featuring LL Cool J, has caused quite an interesting stir online. The song, blending Paisley's perspective as a privileged white southerner with LL Cool J's perspective as a black New Yorker, attempts to address race relations in the south.

Paisley just wants to be able to wear a confederate flag on his shirt and have it represent Lynyrd Skynyrd and not, you know, centuries of racism-fueled oppression, violation, and abuse. LL Cool J just doesn't want white guys to judge him for his do-rag -- and he promises that in turn, he won't judge their confederate flags. (Again: universal symbol for centuries of racism-fueled oppression, violation, and abuse.)

Paisley visited "The Ellen DeGeneres" show this week and, bless her heart, DeGeneres gave him the opportunity to try to explain himself. "I did a duet with LL Cool J, who has become one of my best friends in the world," says Paisley. "I don't know if any of you noticed, but there is some racial tension, here and there. It kind of deals with that and I felt like when we were writing this song it wasn't necessarily up to the media. I don't really trust sort of, I guess, Hollywood ... or sort of talk radio or anything like that to deal with that anymore. I think it's music's turn to have the conversation."

According to him, the song is intended to serve as a question, not an answer. "We're sort of asking the question of as a proud Southerner and he is a black New Yorker," he says. "One of my favorite lines in the song, he says, 'I think the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixing.' Leave it to a rapper to put it so simply and so beautifully."

For the record, another line in the song, sung by LL, is: "If you forget my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains." Essentially, "If you allow me to dress as I please, we can just put this whole slavery thing behind us!"

"Make your own mind up," says Paisley. "That's fine. You can throw things at me."



The full lyrics of "Accidental Racist" are below.



To the man who waited on me
At the Starbucks down on Main
I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt
The only thing I meant to say
Is I'm a Skynyrd fan

The red flag on my chest is somehow like the elephant
In the corner of the South
And I just walked him right in the room

Just a proud rebel son
With an old can of worms
Looking like I've got a lot to learn
But from my point of view

I'm just a white man
Coming to you from the Southland
Trying to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from
But not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me to rewrite history
Our generation didn't start this nation
We're still picking up the pieces
Walking over eggshells
Fighting over yesterday
And caught between southern pride
And southern blame

They called it Reconstruction
Fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We're still sifting' through the rubble
After 150 years
I'll try to put myself in your shoes
And that's a good place to begin
It ain't like I can walk a mile
In someone else's skin

'Cause I'm just a white man
Living in the Southland
Just like you, I'm more than what you see
I'm proud of where I'm from
And not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me to rewrite history
Our generation didn't start this nation
And we're still paying for the mistakes
Than a bunch of folks made
Long before we came
Caught somewhere between southern pride
And southern blame

[LL Cool J]
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you're living in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin' doesn't mean I'm up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold, but I'm still misunderstood
I wasn't there when Sherman's March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid, but be a slave I never could
Feel like a new-fangled Django dogging invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I'm thinking it's not all good
I guess we're both guilty of judging the cover, not the book
I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here

I'm just a white man
(If you don't judge my do-rag)
Coming to you from the southland
(I won't judge your red flag)
Trying to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from
(If you forget my gold chains)
But not everything we've done
(I'll forget the iron chains)
It ain't like you and me can rewrite history
(Can't rewrite history, baby)
Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixing')
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly, I'm a black Yankee, but I've been thinking about this lately)
I'm a son of the New South
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that's left is southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee, but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)



Photo/Video credit: Warner Bros.