Tag Archives: Eric Church

MEADOWS, TRAVIS SOLITUDE

A CONVERSATION WITH SONGWRITER, TRAVIS MEADOWS

   ONE MAN. ONE GUITAR. AND THE TRUTH.

     Jason Aldean’s hit song about Nashville, “Crazy Town,” describes rolling into town and shaking off the “where you came from dust” so you can become somebody famous. “It’s a crazy town full of neon dreams, Everybody plays everybody sings.” That’s the artist side of things. Sell your soul to the devil for a hit record. For every artist who comes to Nashville hoping the city is a dream catcher, there’s a songwriter who moves there to tell stories. He’s not looking to shake off where he came from because that’s the foundation of his character and the source of his inspiration. While an artist may be willing to edit his image, a songwriter is only as good as the truth he can tell. Travis Meadows didn’t come to Nashville with aspirations of standing in a neon spotlight or becoming a songwriter. He was a songwriter long before he set foot in Music City and fame wasn’t something he coveted. His craft is dependent on taking life’s moments of stark reality and turning them into lyrics. “Davidson County Police” is a song Travis wrote that describes some of his truth. Blue lights shining in his face, it’s as if he was asked to take a songwriter’s oath: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Hand on the Bible, Travis answers in the affirmative. The truth is all he knows.

     To be a songwriter, you must first be a writer. In Travis’ words, “You either are or you aren’t a writer. You don’t become one.” For Travis, the writing started around age six or seven when be began rhyming things, writing poems. His progression from poetry to songwriting took place casually in his childhood. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, the dirt beneath his songwriting roots. About the age of ten, he started playing drums and learning rock songs. KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” were among the first he recalled having played. Around eleven, he connected the dots between poetry and songwriting. He wrote a poem and started making up words. “Lonely Heart” was his first song. A tectonic shift in his life happened when he was eleven, the age he remembers his first addiction started. He describes himself as having an addictive personality. When he does something, it’s all or nothing. His songwriting would become a product of those addictions and an addiction in itself. This was the beginning of Travis’ lifelong need to write songs.

     You might expect that Travis Meadows cut his songwriting teeth and his performance skills in Nashville. He didn’t. When Travis stepped off the bus, or got out of the car, the sign he saw said ‘Gatlinburg.’ Around the age of 21, Travis moved to Gatlinburg and learned to play the guitar. This would be no casual MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR CLOSE UP EYES CLOSEDpreoccupation. When he was learning something new, it consumed him. He would play a song for 24 hours, marking it indelibly in his mind. One of those he learned was “Helpless” by Neil Young. Travis said he never followed bands much. He was more a fan of the singer/songwriters like Neil Young and Bob Dylan. What led to his taking a seat behind a microphone, putting a guitar in his hands, and singing his songs to entertain people wasn’t emulating those musicians he admired. It was a fellow Mississippian turned Tennessee resident that caught his eye. Watching Elvis movies, Travis saw a regular guy going about his life turn into something special when he picked up a guitar and started to sing. People suddenly paid attention to him. Encouraged, Travis started performing for the lunch crowd at a deli in Gatlinburg. He says he started out playing just three songs. He added a fourth and eventually was able to make selections from 100 songs he knew. This was the beginning of a dream for Travis that would lead to his making a bucket list move a few years down the road.

     Travis didn’t move to Nashville to become a famous songwriter. He moved to Nashville because he wanted to write with the best songwriters. Starting out an unknown entity in Music City, he went about trying to get a publishing deal. He’d had a few hits on Christian radio but now had to get the guys in the country market to pay attention to him. He had a series of meetings where he was playing some Christian songs while the guy that was supposed to be listening to him was otherwise occupied checking his email. At the last of these meetings, he decided to play some country tunes. This made the listener start taking notes. A day or two later, he had three publishers meetings. He said the first two went so bad he didn’t bother to go to the third one. He left demoralized. Songwriting was what he’d come to Nashville to do. There was no plan B. What happened next he describes as “the beginning of the end that started the beginning.”

     After an unplanned hiatus from songwriting, Travis found his way back to his passion. He says he traded dingy, dank bars for open mic and writer’s nights at more reputable establishments. These places are the proving grounds for some of Nashville’s best songwriters. Surrounding himself with new walls and new MEADOWS, TRAVIS SINGINGfaces was the inspiration he needed to write again on a level that might just land him a publishing deal. He described this new source of inspiration as “digging water from a different well.” Travis had been writing songs for an Australian country singer named Adam Brand. On the day that Scott Gunter from Universal came to see him perform, he played three of those songs. Unlike his previous experiences, this turned out to be a life changing day in a good way. Scott loved the performance and signed him to a publishing contract. He also learned that day that Adam Brand had recorded one of his songs. I doubt it happens often that a newly signed songwriter has a recorded song on the first day of his publishing contract. This would be his lucky day. If you ask Travis how he landed this deal, he’ll attribute it to luck as much as his credentials as a songwriter. He says landing a deal is a crap shoot based on the particular day and whose ear is doing the listening. Music is subjective by nature. Just as we choose music based on what we’re in the mood to hear at a given time, so might the guy whose job it is to decide the fate of your deal. Your future as a professional songwriter may be at the mercy of his mood.

     So Travis Meadows is now a professional songwriter living in Nashville. His dream come true! I’d always wondered how songwriters make money, so I took this opportunity to ask one. Travis’ response: “Hell if I know.” He says quarterly checks appear in his mailbox and calls it “magic money.” Explaining what he did know, he summarized the two types of royalties that songwriters earn. Performance Royalties are paid when music is performed publicly. This would include radio, in a bar, over Spotify and Pandora, etc. PROs (performance rights organizations) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, collect performance royalties from music users and subsequently pay the songwriters and publishers. Mechanical Royalties are paid to songwriters and artists whenever music is sold. This would include vinyl and CD sales as well as streaming. For songwriters, mechanical royalties are set by the government (9 cents for every dollar earned via sale).  To receive his royalty check, Travis had to decide which PRO he wished to join. He was with ASCAP for 15 years before switching to BMI. The rate of payout fluctuates and often determines which PRO a songwriter will sign with. Travis doesn’t dwell on the subject of money when talking about songwriting. He says if you got into songwriting to make money, you’d be better off as a plumber. For him, it’s never been about making money. Commercial success rarely happens to writers. In his words, “Writers write because there’s something on the inside that needs to get out.”

     While songwriting is Travis Meadows’ occupation, it’s not a nine to five gig. Inspiration can come at all hours to a writer and may strike when you have nothing more than a napkin to write on. Creative passion doesn’t punch a time clock, nor can it be ordered up like a hamburger with toppings that suit the consumer. Songwriters have taken a beating for the cliched sound of country radio these days, lambasted as if they’ve suddenly run out of words. Travis says he pays no attention to country radio. He keeps busy – “head down and hands on the plow.” His spark comes from inside and his songs reflect the truth that built the man. He quoted Harlan Perry Howard, a hall of fame songwriter, when relating the belief from which he writes. “Country music is three chords and the truth.” Travis understands the role radio plays, often filling commute time with non-thinking music. Someone has to write the music to fill that spot and there are songwriters who do that exceptionally well. For something deeper, you’ll have to look outside the box. Many have been quick to report the demise of  good songwriting in country music, never having looked past the store window that radio represents. Great songs are written every day by truth tellers like Travis Meadows, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear them. Travis says that sometimes great songs slip through to country radio, but historically, the best cuts never do. For the holy grail of Nashville songwriting, attend a Writers’ Round.

     Travis played a Writers’ Round at Douglas Corner recently with friends, Lucie Silvas and Tyler Bryant. Patti McClintic was there for that event and had this to say about the experience: “Travis is enjoying commercial success with hit songs he’s written for Jake Owen, “What We Ain’t Got,” and Dierks Bentley, “Riser.” He played both of those songs for the crowd gathered at Douglas Corner and they were well received, but it was his lesser known songs that brought down the house.” Patti said it was difficult to choose which songs she felt most impacted by and which she would talk about because all of his MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR FINGER UPselections deserved a mention. The two she settled on were “Minefield” from Travis’ 2011 album, Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, and “Black” from his 2007 album, My Life 101. In her words, ““Minefield” speaks to anyone who has ever found themselves in a dark place, found the light, and succumbed to the darkness once again, generally thanks to one’s own poor decisions. To hear Meadows explain how this song came about, reveals how honest he is about his own difficult past. He makes no apologies for that past, and rightfully so. “Black” is a song written for a grandfather that served as a surrogate father for Meadows as a boy. The relationship was a good one and left him with fond memories. The title refers to the black coffee that “granddaddy” used to drink. “Real men drink their coffee black.” This song was so powerful, as I glanced across the capacity crowd, I could see people trying to nonchalantly wipe tears from their cheeks. Rare is the writer that can evoke such raw emotions from the listener.” In such a setting, Travis has the opportunity to explain his connection to the song and the  circumstances that inspired its writing. Being in a room with several songwriters, all performing their powerful truths, is a cataclysmic experience. Patti called this the “perfect storm of songwriting” and summed up her review by saying, “It was the best ten bucks I ever spent.”

     Outside the Writers’ Rounds, where the truth is less self evident, country music is a changing genre. There’s been a lot of debate about the sound of country music and where it’s headed in the future. Traditionalists want to pull the genre back to its roots while others think the time is right to push the boundaries. Travis keeps an open mind about the music and doesn’t see the need to compartmentalize it. He referenced Eric Church when talking about this subject, saying that his fans aren’t necessarily country fans. Eric has amassed a following based on his music and who he is. If this were a game of rock, paper, scissors, music beats genre. The impact of the digital age on music hasn’t been lost on Travis either. He says that people buy songs these days, not albums, and they make playlists that include different genres of music. He isn’t surprised that this type of genreless listening has found its way into the music and thinks it may not be such a bad thing. He also reminded me that this isn’t the first time country music has had its boundaries tested. In the 60s, Ray Price added orchestral parts to the music, breaking from the traditional honky tonk sounding arrangements that were the accepted norm of the day. Travis sees country as a genre in a box, imposing its own growth restrictions. As a songwriter whose craft depends on his growth as a person, he relishes the artistic freedom that growth allows.

     Travis Meadows says he’s growing as a person and channeling that growth into a new album. There’s no time limit on the project and he’s not sure what the finished product will look like. As of now, he has about 17 songs for it but admits he has no idea what will end up on the record. What he does know is that MEADOWS, TRAVIS WITH HARMONICAthis album will definitely be lighter than the first two. When he wrote Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, he says the purpose was to save a life. He never intended for it to be heard. When it was so overwhelmingly accepted and lauded for the truths it told, it cast a long shadow on what was to follow. Travis says just to get past the reverberations of Uncle Buzzy, he wrote and released Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business. He admits there was no other reason for it. This time, he wants things to happen organically. He’s playing shows, going about his daily life, and thinking about what he needs to say. In order to say something new, he says he has to answer the question, “Who is Travis today?” The music will reflect that personal growth.

     For Travis Meadows, his life and his life’s work is in the songs he’s written, and he says he loves them all. I asked a hard question of a songwriter, to choose a few of his favorites from among the vast catalog. Travis said the list would change daily, but these rose to the top on this day: “Learning How To Live Alone” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy), “Davidson County Police” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy) because it was heavy and life changing, “Lucky One” (My Life 101), “My Life 101” (My Life 101) because it was his truth, not what they wanted to hear, “Old Ghosts” (Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business) because he made peace with the ghosts of his past by turning and looking at them, “Riser” (Dierks Bentley, Riser), and “What We Ain’t Got” (Jake Owen, Days Of Gold). Having come to Nashville to write with some of the best songwriters, I asked who he most enjoyed writing with. He said there were many, so just to name a few he listed Jeremy Spillman, Tony Lane, Tom Douglas, and Melissa Peirce. Travis said you never know what’s going to come out of a writing session, sometimes you come up empty, but every once in a while you come up with something great. With characteristic humility he said, “As a songwriter, you have to smile at heaven when you write something bigger than you because it’s too clever for you to have written.”

MEADOWS, TRAVIS WITH JAKE OWEN BLOCK PARTY

     I requested an interview with Travis Meadows the songwriter, what I got as a bonus was a conversation with Travis the man. There is no separating the man from his work. His work is merely a manifestation of the the life he’s lived and the man he’s become. He spent a good many years of his life learning to be comfortable in his own skin. As he put it, “I had to learn to be me.” His MEADOWS, TRAVIS WAIST UPsongwriting is the embodiment of all that he’s learned and the truth of his actions. Commercial success is not what motivates him. He told me that he writes what he loves, not what you want to hear. At the end of the day, when he signs his name to a song he’s written, he does so knowing it was the best he could do that day. He’s become known for writing good songs. Even with the spotlight that writing hit songs for Jake Owen and Dierks Bentley has given him, Travis is most at home where songwriters gather. He said playing at the Ryman was not the pinnacle for him. Playing the 9 o’clock show at the Bluebird Cafe is a gratifying pat on the back that says he’s made it in a songwriter’s town, where the best of the best come to tell their truths. His was not a neon dream. Travis has found that success for a humble man is simply three chords and the truth.

From WAY North of Nashville……..Bev Miskus

Watch the video for Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got”!

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Travis said when they wrote the song, it was with the idea that it would be a guy and a girl song. Jake’s video gave it new life. He said he never envisioned it like that and it’s become bigger than he ever thought it could be.

Visit Travis Meadows’ website: http://travismeadows.com/

MEADOWS, TRAVIS MY LIFE 101

Download My Life 101 on iTunes: HERE

MEADOWS, TRAVIS KILLIN UNCLE BUZZY

Download Killin’ Uncle Buzzy on iTunes: HERE

MEADOWS, TRAVIS OLD GHOSTS & UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Download Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business on iTunes: HERE

MEADOWS, TRAVIS SOLITUDE

Photographs courtesy of Bill McClintic at 90 East Photography.

Visit his website for contact information: http://www.90eastphotography.com/home.html

The essential Travis Meadows playlist!

Learning How To Live Alone” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Davidson County Police” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Lucky One” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

My Life 101” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Old Ghosts” – Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Black” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Minefield” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

What We Ain’t Got” – Jake Owen – Days Of Gold

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Dark Side” – Eric Church – The Outsiders

Songwriters: Eric Church, Travis Meadows, Jeremy Spillman

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Riser” – Dierks Bentley – Riser

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Steve Moakler

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

©2015Bev Miskus

ERIC CHURCH SOLO SALT LAKE CITY

ERIC CHURCH – ONE MAN BAND

     Live music is vulnerable to all sorts of things – weather, malfunctioning equipment, power outages, travel delays, someone having an off night, etc. Headliners often have to cancel shows due to illness or family emergencies. It is highly unusual, however, to have an entire band and crew succumb to illness, leaving only the headliner standing. It takes a lot of people to put on a show these days, many of which you don’t see or know their names. This situation was put under the spotlight this past weekend at an Eric Church concert in Salt Lake City. With only himself to bring to the stage, and nothing more than a spotlight to announce his presence, Eric Church decided the show must go on and this would be no abbreviated version. He played a full 19-song acoustic set for his fans and delivered what few would have attempted. This certainly was not the fully amped show the audience was expecting, but it speaks volumes about the entertainer, the man, and the importance of the band and crew members.

     We take a lot of things for granted at a live show, all the moving pieces and the people who contribute to that enormous sound and bright lights that fill the arena. At each new venue, the pieces of the concert puzzle have to be put together, and not just anyone can make that happen. Each crew member has a specific job to do and the expertise to know how to do it. They are not easily replaceable, especially on the spur of the moment when crunched for time. Should an entire crew go down or simply not show up, no one would knock on Eric Church‘s bus door and ask him to put his own stage together, move heavy equipment, or unload the trucks. Not that Eric would consider himself above doing any of these tasks or refuse to try, as many would, it just wouldn’t be asked of him. This is what he has crew members for, assuming they’re healthy and available.

     What we hear and what we see at a concert is also dependent on a skilled group of people to hook things up, put them in the right places, and push the right buttons when the time comes. Having the equipment is one thing, knowing what to do with it is quite another, and essential to making that live music performance come together. Band members don’t walk onto the stage and start playing for an audience without first testing the sound of their instruments. This is what sound check is for. However, if their equipment never makes it off the truck, never gets hooked up, and the sound engineer is absent, welcome to the silence. The same holds true for turning that sound into a spectacle the audience can see and hear. Not that every concert needs to be a light show, but there is an importance to casting the right light on the right part of the stage at the right time. It would appear odd to highlight the guitar player during a drum solo. It would also be unusual not to put Eric Church under the spotlight while he was singing. All this doesn’t seem too complicated, but without the equipment in place and the guys who know how to run it, Eric’s “Dark Side” would be more than a song in the set list.

     Let’s assume for a moment that everything got delivered, the sound and the lighting equipment is in its place, and the crew has assembled all the pieces. The sound and the lighting engineers are in their places and the lights in the arena go down indicating show time. Something’s missing. There are no instruments on the stage because the entire band has the flu. Suddenly that big sound you were expecting to hear is not in the building. How often do we show up at a concert, watch the headliner all night, and take the sound of the band and the musicians playing those instruments for granted? Most people won’t know their names and couldn’t pick them out of a lineup immediately following the concert, yet the sound we expect to hear at that concert is largely dependent on them. When was the last time you bought an acoustic album? Live music is all about putting the sound behind the singing, often in a very big, very loud way. Not to say that the headliner doesn’t contribute to that sound, but the full concert experience depends on having a band to back him/her up. If it’s the quality we’ve come to expect from an Eric Church concert, these will not be average musicians, and their presence cannot simply be replaced. What we may take for granted, Eric Church does not.

     When Eric became aware that his band and crew would not be able to set things up and perform their duties at the show, he had a decision to make. The majority of headliners in his position would have canceled the show, rescheduled it, and left. This show has been rescheduled, but it was not canceled. With only a spotlight and an acoustic guitar, Eric took the stage as scheduled and played a full set that included 19 songs. This is not something he’d practiced nor was prepared to do on short notice, but not wanting to disappoint an arena full of fans, he showed up and gave it everything he had, as he would on any other night. For one of his most powerful songs, “That’s Damn Rock & Roll,” Lzzy Hale did join him on stage and together they were an acoustic powerhouse. Lzzy’s scream needs no amplifier, and neither did this song. It was an anthem for the entire evening.

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     As much as Eric Church was a one man band at this show, he understands better than most that no one is. He gets the importance of the people around him and probably knows every name. Being on the road for as long and as many dates as these guys often are, is a sacrifice for all of them, not just the guy whose name is on your concert ticket. Eric’s decision to perform in this situation was not only an indication of how much he values his fans, but how much he respects his band and crew by carrying on when they couldn’t. Despite the fact that the fans were expecting a different type of show that night, I doubt a single one of them left disappointed. Eric demonstrated what an entertainer does when the spotlight comes on, “Give all ya got till there ain’t nothin’ left,” even if you’re alone in the middle of it on an empty stage. Caring about his band and crew, that’s Eric the man. Pulling this off as only Eric Church could…… “That’s Damn Rock & Roll.”

From WAY North of Nashville……..Bev Miskus

WATCH Eric Church and Lzzy Hale perform “That’s Damn Rock & Roll” acoustically!

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See Eric Church LIVE on The Outsiders World Tour: http://ericchurch.com/events/upcoming

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Download Eric’s Grammy nominated album, The Outsiders, through iTunes: HERE

©2015 Bev Miskus

ERIC CHURCH THE OUTSIDERS

ERIC CHURCH – THE OUTSIDERS – Destined To Be A “Broke Record”

When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again”

     On the surface, it would appear that Eric Church and Taylor Swift have little in common. Their careers briefly crossed paths as Eric was exiting a Rascal Flatts tour and Taylor was taking the stage as their new opening act. If there is a common thread to be found between them, it is that they are both prolific songwriters. I doubt they’ll ever write together or sing a duet, but there is one song that seems to speak for both of them. One of Taylor’s biggest hits from her recent album, RED, was a song called “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Though Taylor never reveals who her songs are written about, it’s safe to assume there is some guy out there who has no chance of ever winning her back. Ever. If you’ve listened to Eric Church’s new album, The Outsiders, it’s evident that he has cut something out of his life for good as well. Whether he’s talking about the way records used to be made in Nashville, the underbelly that is the Nashville recording industry, or someone specific, Eric’s voice on this album is clearly shouting “WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER. LIKE EVER!”

     After the chart topping success of Eric’s last two albums, Chief, and Caught In the Act (Live), anticipation was high for his new project. Little was revealed about what Eric had in mind for this one, but waiting for Eric to make his next move is like watching the most intense chess game ever. At the ACM Awards in 2013, Eric’s album, Chief, was recognized as the Album of the Year. This is the equivalent of the Academy of Country Music giving you their seal of approval. In an article written about that win, the writer surmised that Eric had taken a step into the embrace of Nashville and was no longer considered an outsider. The writer was even bold enough to state that Eric had entered the new “mainstream of Music City.” I don’t know how much press Eric reads about himself, but I imagine if he read that, this is where he decided to make his next move. Just when Nashville insiders officially welcomed him into the fold, Eric names his next project The Outsiders. CHECK.

     The first time I heard the song “The Outsiders” when it was released as a single, I was blown away by the power it gave off in its delivery. This was no acoustic lullaby, unless you’re used to falling asleep to Metallica. I kept playing it over and over, getting more excited about it each time I listened to it. No one unleashes a song like this as the first single off their new album unless they’re holding the dynamite to back it up. This move gave me the distinct impression that Eric was about to wage a war and this song was his opening shot. I was practically giddy thinking about what he had planned for this album. Looking back, I’m not sure what tickled me more, the thought of what might be on this album or Nashville’s reaction to it.

     Prior to the February 11 release date, two more songs from the album were released. “Give Me Back My Hometown” and “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young” were the next two warning shots fired. Another brilliant move on the chess board. Country radio was giving some airplay to “Give Me Back My Hometown,” giving it that mainstream Nashville seal of approval. Maybe they were thinking that Eric would ease off the throttle a little with the rest of this album and give them something they could put in rotation. Perish the thought! “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young” is one of those TKOs you don’t feel until you’re lying on the mat. I can’t think of a softer delivery of a song that has ever packed such a punch. The music here won’t knock you out, but the lyrics will. This one will flat out take your breath away. The winners of this match are Eric Church and Jeremy Spillman for their gloves off songwriting.

     When the rest of this album dropped at the stroke of midnight on February 11, seismic activity was reported in Nashville. Thank goodness for the secrecy of the iTunes download! Too bad there aren’t statistics available for the number of times this album got downloaded that night within the confines of the Music City zip code. Order up the champagne for EMI Records Nashville and pass the tylenol to those naïve academy members who thought their pat on the back would make Eric Church sit still and play nice. On that notion, The Outsiders dropped “Like A Wrecking Ball.” I decided not to download the album that night. Something this powerful, I wanted to hold in my hand, so I dropped my daughter off at school and drove straight to Target that morning. Suffice it to say that the speakers in my SUV got a workout on the drive home and had there been a cop following me, I likely would have been pulled over for driving erratically. Hey, it’s Eric Church! Practically in full out hyperventilation by the time I’d finished listening to it, I kept thinking that no one makes records like this anymore! Who is this guy? Members of the “27 Club” were flashing through my mind in the way they boldly made music in their time and unleashed it on a naïve and unsuspecting public. Albums from the 60s and 70s had a distinct sound to them and the music told a story. The songs unfolded like chapters from a book. That was the advantage of vinyl records. Skipping around on the album brought the danger of potentially scratching it and ruining your favorite songs. Albums were usually listened to in their entirety. Every album had songs that stood out of course, but kids who grew up during that time period can still easily call to mind their favorite albums. No one from this era wore out a song; they wore out albums from playing them over and over and over.

     Much has already been written about how different this album sounds as a whole, the range of sounds found in the songs on it, and how groundbreaking for a record made in Nashville it is. In the groundbreaking category I’d say it’s like taking a sledge hammer to the Grand Ole Opry. Not to say that Eric doesn’t appreciate the history of the place, I think he’s just decided to make a little music history of his own. There are a few songs on this album that will get some radio airplay and possibly be part of an Eric Church greatest hits album some day, but its greater impact will be felt in the album as a whole. This album succeeds in turning back the hands of time to a place where musicians created albums that were intensely personal and reflected who they were as a singer or as a band. If there was a message they wished to convey, they told it through the music. Album titles and cover art were as important to the project as every individual song on it. These albums revealed a thought process that is entirely lacking in much of mainstream music today. Many of the current hitmakers reveal nothing more than a dollars and cents approach to an endgame. In 50 years no one will remember these songs or the albums they came from. It’s been nearly 50 years since we lost Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin, and yet we’re still talking about them and the music they made. Each of these musical pioneers made bold statements with their music and took risks most people weren’t willing to take at that time.

     Fans of Eric Church are going to love this album. Music fans who might not necessarily be country music fans are going to like it too. It has a very broad appeal in its diversity. Credit should be given to the team of people who made this album, including Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr. who produced it, and the songwriters who created the pieces that make up this powerful story: Casey Beathard, Eric Church, Monty Criswell, Michael Heeney, Lynn Hutton, Luke Laird, Travis Meadows, Jeremy Spillman, and Ryan Tyndell. The quality of the songwriting on this album is what makes it the powerful statement that it is. I have no doubt that Eric Church was the mastermind behind this record and the passion he felt for the project is evident in the finished product. It says a lot about the musician and the man to feel strongly enough about something so personal to risk putting it out there for the world to hear and take a gamble on the reaction to it. At a time when money trumps all else, Eric Church made his move with this record and EMI Records Nashville saw fit to let him make it. If the music industry in Nashville is like a chess game with the powers that be moving their pawns at will, Eric Church made the winning move when it was his turn to play and won this game with the boldest move Music City has seen in a good long while. Winning a chess game requires putting your opponent’s king in a position where the threat you just made cannot be removed. I can imagine Eric sitting opposite the devil he talks about in this album, pondering his next move, hiding his intentions behind those aviator sunglasses, and making his decisive move only when he’s damn good and ready to. CHECKMATE “Devil, Devil.”

From WAY North of Nashville…..Bev Miskus

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To preview and purchase thru iTunes click this link: THE OUTSIDERS

ERIC CHURCH – THE OUTSIDERS – THE OUTSIDERS
©2014Bev Miskus