Like many aspects of Country Music, I took a while to get it. I’m slow sometimes, so forgive me. Despite hearing Springsteen (Eric Church’s massive Country No 1) back in 2011 I never really connected with it. It really wasn’t until Eric released The Outsiders in 2014 that I really got it.
It was a song about a motor racing event, not something I’d have predicted, but when Taladega came along I knew I’d fallen for Eric Church and everything he’d released started to make sense. I had to brief up a bit to conduct that face to face interview we had at C2C in the Quay back in 2016, but as I worked my way through these back pages I knew I was smitten. Then came the true conversion. If you’re going to get Eric you really need to go to Church. That night at C2C Eric brought the Church to Glasgow and a room full of disparate country lovers became a crowd of true believers.
Since then Eric Church has gone from strength to strength. He’s released a series of compelling albums which have nestled comfortably on Country Radio but still asked the questions and shown the aching vulnerability that are hallmarks of EC’s best work. He’s also become one of the biggest selling recording and live artists working in America. In 2017 he embarked on one of the most ambitious tours ever when he and his regular road band decided to make each night on the tour a unique concert experience for every member of the audience. Any two nights would be different with the exception of a clutch of songs even Eric couldn’t omit. You can hear all of that on the 61 Days of Church albums which are available in all the usual places.
However what interests me about Eric Church’s career is his ability to do what he wants in his own time with the added bonus that it coincides perfectly with what his audience want to hear on their country radio stations. Other artists will tell you that this is what they’ve been doing for years but in Eric’s case it really is true. Since day one too, Eric’s not been afraid to ask questions of the music genre he clearly loves. He’s encouraged and supported other artists (viz Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs) he’s kept his own people with him all the way and he’s done it in style. The next Eric Church tour will take him 18 months to complete.
In a very special two hours we’ll spend an hour reminding you how we got here with a selection of great EC tracks from these first 15 years of his career. In the second hour you’ll hear a conversation I recorded with Eric a couple of weeks back in which he tells how unsatisfied he was with one of his later projects, how this incredible new triple album, Heart and Soul, came about and why the personal tragedies affecting of two of his cowriters made such an impression on these songs. Did I finally get Springsteen? Late to the party, as ever, but I got it and love it.
You will know I am a fan already. If you’re not yet converted let me invite you to Church. It’s this Tuesday evening at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland FM or any time you like on BBC Sounds. Join me if you can.