Brad Paisley honors dad, firefighters in 'Planes' sequel
Brad Paisley has created the ultimate Father's Day gift for his firefighter dad, Doug: a musical tribute to the heroes of the profession.
The country star wrote and sings the final song in the animated film Planes: Fire & Rescue, called All In, which highlights firefighter bravery and sacrifice. Paisley sings an additional song in the film due out July 18 and makes a voice cameo appearance.
Among All In's lyrics: Without hesitation in the face of fear and doubt/There's smoke and flames and everybody needs out/They're all in.
After performing songs on the animated hits Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011), Paisley became close friends with John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. Lasseter suggested Paisley's role in the new film, about firefighting planes.
"The movie is essentially a tribute to firefighters told through these planes," says Paisley, 41. "When John pitched the idea, he said it was a way of paying tribute to my dad. My brother-in-law is also a firefighter in Tennessee. These guys run toward the problem that everyone else is fleeing from."
The follow-up to 2013's Planes features the main character Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) training to fight fires at fictitious Piston Peak National Park.
"We're obviously thrilled to have a three-time Grammy Aaward-winner performing two songs," says director Roberts Gannaway. "But the fact that he has this connection to the heart of our film, the firefighters, well that was just fantastic."
Paisley's childhood in Glen Dale, W.Va., was dominated by the firefighter lifestyle. His father, 65, was the assistant chief of the local volunteer force and an emergency medical technician.
Firefighters were Paisley's heroes and he recalls the many visits to the station.
"My earliest memories are on these fire trucks," says Paisley. "There are more photographs of me from age 5 to 10 on these fire engines than there are photographs of me on birthdays."
Even on family vacations his father used to seek out the local fire department and ask to check out the trucks. Paisley says if he wasn't sidetracked by success as a musician in Nashville, he might have gone into the profession.
"I thought I'd be one. But I took the music path and got really busy," says the father of two sons. "It just wasn't in the cards for me. The best hopes are my kids, probably."
His father even used his emergency skills on tour with Paisley. Before a 2010 show in Wichita, Doug performed CPR on a collapsed venue guard until paramedics arrived.
"My father jumped to it. He started barking orders. You should have seen him," says Paisley. "Basically, he saved the guy's life. It was a big deal."
In Planes, Paisley delivers one comedic line as a heartbroken pick-up truck named Bubba. But don't expect him to head off to Hollywood looking for bigger roles, even with actress wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
Paisley is happy to just have his All In shine a light on firefighters who deserve it.
"It was easy to write this song that shows what matters to me," he says. "We owe them a debt. There isn't a firefighter that's had to buy himself a beer since 9/11. That's how it ought to be."