When Brad Paisley posted the video for “Love and War,” the title track from his new album, on Facebook, he prefaced it with one declaratory sentence: “One of the most important things I’ve ever said and I’m so honored to say it with John Fogerty.”
The song tackles the mistreatment of military vets and does not hold back in its searing criticism of the Veterans Administration and the general lack of care given those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country. “They call ’em decorated heroes / And pin some medals on their chest / Give ’em a tiny little pension / Could we do much less” the pair sing together, hammering home the message with “They send you off to die for us / Forget about you when you’re done.”
Paisley and Fogerty shot the video in San Diego on the USS Midway, as well as under the famous 25-foot tall statue, Unconditional Surrender, which features a World War II sailor kissing a nurse. Interspersed with their performance are shots of real-life vets, both in battle and now, decades later, still struggling. Look closely right before the current-day Fogerty appears, at the :49 mark, to see a snapshot of a bespectacled Pvt. John Fogerty from the Creedence Clearwater Revival founder’s military days in the Army Reserve. (Fogerty’s 15-year-old daughter Kelsey also makes an appearance near the end of the video, holding her father’s photo and offering him a hug.)
Through such classic rockers as “Fortunate Son” and “Run Through the Jungle,” Fogerty has addressed the scourge of war before. “I was sort of crossing my fingers that he would want to go there again,” Paisley tells Rolling Stone Country. “It had been a while since he had sung about something like this and it’s a statement I wanted to make. When I told him [the idea], he said, ‘This is so what I want to say.'”
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Similarly to all the collaborations on Love and War, which also include Mick Jagger, Timbaland and Bill Anderson, Paisley and Fogerty spent three days together in Nashville crafting songs. As they sat down to write, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told Paisley this was his first co-write. “I realize at that point, I’m in over my head,” Paisley remembers. “This is a man who wrote everything himself his entire career. Sometimes the [other members of Creedence Clearwater Revival] got credit, but he never specifically sat in a room and did that before. I was like, ‘Well, crap. That means I can’t blow this. I’m not just another appointment for him.’”
Paisley admits the song is a “scathing indictment,” but makes no apologies for speaking truth to power. “Who could possibly disagree with this? I don’t feel like I’m out on some limb,” he says. “Everybody from John McCain to Jon Stewart, we all feel this. Somebody has dropped the ball. You don’t always know you’re right. I know we’re right on this.”
Fogerty feels as passionately about the song as Paisley: he plans to add it to his set list when he returns to Wynn Las Vegas’s Encore Theater for a five-show stint starting May 19th. The run is part of his ongoing residency at the theater.