Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss’ “Whiskey Lullaby” Almost Went To The Chicks

Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss’ “Whiskey Lullaby” Almost Went To The Chicks | Classic Country Music | Legendary Stories and Songs Videos

(Left & Right) BRADPAISLEY / YouTube/(Bottom) George Pimentel / Contributor / Getty Images

One Of Country Music’s Greatest Duets Is “Whiskey Lullaby”

Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss’ “Whiskey Lullaby” is both one of the saddest and one of the greatest songs ever to grace country music. Full of heartache and sorrow, the song has the singers narrating the tragic story of two people who fall apart after ending their relationship.

In the end, both the man and woman take their own lives. They are eventually buried next to each other, and the angels sing a “whiskey lullaby” for them.

While Paisley and Krauss brought the song’s devastating tale to life, another duo wrote the story in the first place.

That credit goes to Bill Anderson and Jon Randall, whose work was honored with the 2005 CMA Award for Song of the Year.

The Story Behind The Song

In a 2014 interview with The Tennessean, Anderson explained how the song came to be. As it turns out, it was inspired by some rough times Randall experienced following his divorce from country star Lorrie Morgan.

Photo of country singer Lorrie Morgan. Her divorce from Jon Randall partially inspired "Whiskey Lullaby."
Jeff Kravitz / Contributor / Getty Images

Anderson recalled how Randall drank a lot after his divorce and ended up crashing on a friend’s couch one night. When he woke up, his friend said something that inspired a lyric:

As I was coming to, I was apologizing to my friend. I said, ‘I know I’ve been an inconvenience to you. I’ve been an intruder, really, in your life and your home. I thank you.'” Then his friend responded, “‘That’s all right Jon. I’ve put the bottle to my head and pulled the trigger a few times myself.'”

You now know those words became the first line in the chorus of “Whiskey Lullaby.”

Taking the line Randall suggested, along with an idea Anderson had about a burning “midnight cigarette” representing a fading love, the duo wrote a song. Of course, that song turned into “Whiskey Lullaby.”

The (Dixie) Chicks Had “Whiskey Lullaby” On Hold First

That songwriting session occurred in 2000. Although the song was clearly well-written, no one jumped at the chance to record it. Anderson felt maybe it was too depressing.

It wasn’t exactly like people were running up and down Music Row looking for double suicide drinking songs,” he said.

Finally, the two heard the news every songwriter dreams of getting…the track had been placed on hold. But not by Paisley or Krauss.

Instead, The Chicks claimed it.


To Anderson, it made perfect sense why the all-female trio expressed interest in the song. “They would be the kind of act, and at that time, they would have gone outside the lines and colored a little bit,” he said.

Brad Wanted It, So He Waited

The trio maintained their hold on the song for three years. During that time, Paisley heard the track and made it clear he wanted to record it if the Chicks ever released their hold.

Brad said, “Can I put a secondary hold on it?‘” Anderson remembered. “I thought, “Yeah, secondary hold, sure. It’ll get recorded [by the Chicks].”

But it didn’t, and there’s a big reason why. That reason was the fallout after the trio publicly criticized then-President George W. Bush during a concert in London.

With all the backlash and the future of their career seeming uncertain, the Chicks finally released their three-year hold on “Whiskey Lullaby.” Paisley now had the primary hold, and wasted no time claiming the song for himself.

Brad Paisley Came Up With The Idea To Sing It As A Duet

He approached Anderson with an idea. What would he think about adding a female singer to the track?

I said, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty cool idea. Who are you thinking about?‘” Anderson said. “He said, ‘There’s only two people I think that could do it. Either Alison Krauss or Dolly Parton.‘”

Paisley later recorded another duet, “When I Get Where I’m Going,” with Parton.


It was Krauss who joined him on “Whiskey Lullaby.” The result was a Top 10 hit that has since been certified Double Platinum.

Paisley waited three years, hoping the Chicks would lift their hold on “Whiskey Lullaby.” When that day finally came, he had a clear vision of how to bring its words to life.

He turned that vision into a reality. That reality became one of the most widely respected country songs ever to exist.

The history behind “Whiskey Lullaby” may be complicated. But as you know, the payoff was more than worth it.

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