Twenty-three years ago today was a big day for Brad Paisley: On June 1, 1999, Arista released his debut album, Who Needs Pictures.

Paisley wrote 12 of the 13 tracks on Who Needs Pictures, including his first single, which was the album's title track; the song peaked in the Top 15. Paisley didn't have to wait all that long for his first No. 1 hit, however: His second single, "He Didn't Have to Be," earned a spot at the top of the charts and sealed his place among country's hitmakers. Paisley wrote "He Didn't Have to Be" with frequent co-writer Kelley Lovelace, who penned the tune about his own stepson, McCain.

""He Didn't Have to Be" was probably the most life-changing three minutes that I've ever written, because I really believe we wouldn't be sitting here anymore talking," the West Virginia native says. "Maybe we'd be sitting here with me having written a No. 1 song for somebody else, but I don't think I'd still have a record deal without that song. It broke the ice for me with radio. It was like you could see potential in it, and that's an important thing.

Brad Paisley Who Needs Pictures Cover Art
Arista Nashville

"I was really lucky; it wasn't like we knew what we were doing," he adds. "I just happened [to write] that with my best friend from the bottom of my heart about his situation."

Paisley earned one more chart-topping song from Who Needs Pictures, the tender ballad "We Danced." That song held reign in the top spot for two weeks.

Since Who Needs Pictures, Paisley has released 10 more studio albums, as well as two compilation records and a Christmas project. The tunesmith has earned more than 30 Top 20 singles, with 19 of them -- including his collaboration with Dolly Parton, "When I Get Where I'm Going," from 2005's Time Well Wasted, and "Remind Me," his multi-platinum duet with Carrie Underwood, from his This Is Country Music album -- soaring all the way to No. 1.

Who Needs Pictures helped Paisley earn the CMA's Horizon Award and the ACM for Top New Male Vocalist of the Year, both in 2000. He has gone on to win more than 40 major awards, including three Grammys and a CMA for Entertainer of the Year, the latter in 2010. But in spite of all of his achievements and accolades, Paisley says that his goals have nothing to do with chart positions or trophies.

"If you look at the success of somebody from country music that's been around a while, like a George Strait, then it's always about songs," he tells Fox News. "It's always about basically singing something that people would want to say, 'That's my story.' And that's your job in country music."

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.

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