Behind The Song: “Freedom Was A Highway” by Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley

When Jimmie Allen first began writing his song “Freedom was a Highway,” with co-writers Ash Bowers and Matt Rogers, he dove back into his memory of driving around the streets of his hometown. A Milton, Delaware native, the singer-songwriter reflects upon a time “when I first learned how to drive before I had my license,” he says, “and I was serious about my first crush.

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“I just wanted something that felt like home to me, and I just went with it,” Allen says on an episode of Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. “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.”

In a press statement around the release, he noted his immense admiration for Paisley. “I love what he brings to music, and I had to have him bring that same magic to this song,” he said. “I’m humbled to have him join me on this song —he brought the Freedom to the Highway.”

Paisley also shared his joy in the collaboration. “I’m a fan of Jimmie, not only as a musician but also as a person, and I was honored when he asked me to join him on the song. It’s a magical combination—it doesn’t sound like a typical record for me at all and when I come in, I try my best not to ruin Jimmie’s song,” he said. “I use my guitar to make a record sort of sound like I’m on it even before you hear me sing, and I love this guitar solo.”

Sunset through a windshield, I can see it now / Like a picture in a frame, sings Allen, quite wistful. Blue jeans and t-shirts, who we were / We wore it like a name / I wish I could go back to those days.

The unruliness of the electric guitar mingles with the lyrics’ wild-hearted spirit, coursing through both singers’ vocal performances. When the town was the whole world / And love was the girl next door / Soundtrack was a song in the dark, Allen lets loose with the chorus. I miss those days when our dreams / Were there for chasin’ / But time was better wasted.

The accompanying music video (above), which Allen co-directed with Christopher Beyrooty, tells the story of how Allen, as our protagonist, discovers a golden guitar in the forest. When he begins strumming its pristine strings, a fantastical world opens up around him, leading him on a grand, musical journey smack dab in the middle of the woods.

“Freedom was a Highway” appears on Allen’s 2020 EP, Bettie James.

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