Appearing on Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country, the country-singing buddies shared the story behind “Freedom Was a Highway” — and their “explosive” plans for performing it live.
Part of Allen’s Bettie James studio project and released as a single in 2020, the track is now inside the Top 25 on Billboard’s Country Airplay radio chart. A summer jam well suited to a season of renewal, it features a driving country rock sound full of forward momentum, and nostalgic lyrics capturing that anything-is-possible spirit of youth. And Allen says he knows that feeling well.
“When I was writing it, I was singing about the streets I grew up on in Delaware, driving around when I first learned how to drive before I had my license and I was serious on my first crush,” Allen explains. “And I just wanted something that felt like home to me. And I just went with it. I didn’t realize people would be into it as much as they’re starting to show they are. Typically, I just write songs that I like and put them out and hopefully they land where they’re supposed to land.”
The pair performed “Freedom Was a Highway” live on the 56th annual ACM Awards in April, and will likely make it a centerpiece of Paisley’s tour this year — but Paisley wants to make it special for fans. The superstar has had many hit duets over the years, he says, but he’s never had his duet partner on tour while the song was out, so that calls for something unique.
“I’ve never had a tour with the person I had a duet out with,” Paisley says.
“Oh, really?” Allen replies.
“No. I mean, when Carrie and I had ‘Remind Me,’ she wasn’t on tour with me anymore. She was way bigger than that,” Paisley goes on. “And it was like the same with I’ve had songs with Dierks, I’ve had songs with Alan Jackson, but I’ve never had them out on the road while I had that. And in this case, while it’s rising like this, to walk out there and we’ve got great entrances planned for you, you know what I mean? … We’re going to shoot him out of a cannon for the song, which hopefully you land by the first line.”
Talk about a “Best Shot.” Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley’s “Freedom Was a Highway” is out now, and both artists will be featured on Paisley’s Tour 2021. The run gets underway in earnest next week, starting July 8 in Jacksonville, Florida.