Brad Paisley Addresses The Opioid Crisis in Appalachia With New Single “The Medicine Will”

Brad Paisley country music
Brad Paisley

A track with a bigger purpose.

Brad Paisley is gearing up to release his new album, which is expected to come in early 2024, but the album teaser EP is here: Son Of The Mountains: The First Four Tracks. 

As this will be Paisley’s first album since 2017, all eyes are on him to see how the album shapes up. One track that drew my eye was “The Medicine Will.”

Paisley took to Instagram teasing the documentary-style music video he released accompanying the single, which addresses the heartbreaking epidemic of drug use in Appalachia.

This is obviously an issue that has been going on for quite some time, and if you follow many artists who come out of Appalachia, they sing of the hardships. The issue has recently been put more in the public eye with the Netflix documentary Painkiller, which highlights the opioid crisis and Purdue Pharma’s role in it.

In 2020, Health in Appalachia published an article highlighting the role that opioids have in deaths in Appalachia:

“These patterns are also evident in the Appalachian Region. Existing evidence suggests that residents of Appalachia are more likely to die prematurely than those who live outside of Appalachia.

Among those living in Central Appalachia and in economically distressed counties, those differences are even greater.

While multiple factors contribute to decreasing life expectancy, notable trends in opioid-related deaths significantly contribute to the loss of life in Appalachia.”

With the region being socially secluded and many jobs being blue-collar work, drug use is often the answer for ailments, especially for those in coal mining communities where injured coal miners often turn to opiates. In turn, many good people fall into a toxic cycle of addiction and trying to stay sober.

Through Paisley’s lyrics, he highlights the hardships of this issue while interviewing first responders and victims of the crisis.

As a West Virginia native, Paisley found it necessary to highlight those in his community, capturing it through song and story.

“‘The Medicine Will’ focuses on the opioid epidemic and was shot in black and white and in the depths of a coal mine featuring real life stories of addicts, survivors, and first responders.”

He also stated in an Instagram caption highlighting the vision of the story he tells:

“For the music video for “The Medicine Will,” we performed in a coal mine hundreds of feet below my home state. These are wonderful people, and their story is heartbreaking. But hopeful.”

Throughout the video, you hear all the interviews intertwined into the melodies, packing an even harder punch with the already emotional lyrics.

Paisley notes in the lyrics how every person he sat down and chatted with are good people caught up in a bad situation, and as one of the police officers in the video says:

“These are not bad people. These are people that deserve our help.”

Throughout the words in the song, that message is reiterated, with the heartbreaking reality that if the coal mine doesn’t kill many of the people who live in this region, addiction will.

“There’s coal under the mountains
And gold in them, there’s pills
If living here don’t kill you
The medicine will.

Well these are good God-fearing people
Just doing the best they can
And if the devil’s in the details
Then hell’s in milligrams.”

Appalachia’s hardships have been highlighted in music for quite some time, like the Local Honeys’ who perfectly capture Appalachia living through beauty and pain in each of their songs.

But, it finally has come time for a mainstream artist to spotlight the problem and tell the stories of those living in the mountainous region.

Give it a listen; it’s a moving video.

If you have time, check out the interviews he conducted. The stories of these folks will sit with you.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock