Eric Church, that is.
As my regular readers know, I do enjoy a good bit of music. That said, Eric Church is an artist truly hitting his stride – a man making and performing music that is not merely good, but at times, undeniably great.
From the hat-tip opening for the recently departed Leonard Cohen to start off the show, (and a not so subtle prelude to the “going to church” aura that is this particular Eric Church tour) to the raucous “That’s Damn Rock and Roll” and the more introspective “Round here Buzz” and all points between, Mr. Church puts on one hell of a show.
The man appears to genuinely love performing, a love that is directly reflected in the nearly three hours Church concert experience. He approaches the stage with a long-legged stride and crooked, sheepish grin, as if to tell the audience of thousands, “Howdy all. I’m about to blow your ever-lovin’-doors off.”
And then Church proceeds to do just that.
There is something undeniably small-town country in Mr. Church, an attribute that is magnified during this time when such qualities have been newly elevated by a national interest in rediscovering America’s unique and enviable qualities of being the place where a simple country boy can still make it big. Despite his current level of fame and success, Church doesn’t strut on stage. He doesn’t mock. Nor does he turn his nose up to the people who have made that success possible.
Those fans have given him much, and so, this child of Granite Falls, North Carolina (population 4700) does his best to give a little back. Life is short and none of us get out of it alive, so why not have a bit of fun while we’re all at it? Remember the past, but don’t obsess on it. Enjoy the present, because who the hell knows if there will be a future.
That’s the gospel of Church.
“It was the summer before the real world started…”
And in these days of constant divisiveness, Eric Church never went political during his concert. He sang of America, of God, faith, family, and love, of missing those since gone and appreciating those still here. While doing so, he never judged, never condemned.
In an industry overflowing with marginal talent overproduced to the point of parody, Erich Church presents something of a country-troubadour throwback that is a much-needed breath of fresh air in this modernized pop culture gone stale. He shows flashes of Elvis, Hank Jr. Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash, among others – true giants of the genre. And yet, also manages to remain true to himself. Yes, there is an image. Church is well versed in such things by now. (He graduated from Appalachian State College with a marketing degree) Yet, that image never seems a threat to overcome the actual man.
“I don’t like everybody. I think that’s normal. I think that’s real.” – Eric Church
When not on the road, he likes his space and privacy. He enjoys a little drink and a little smoke. He loves his wife and his kids, music and performing, and is successful enough now to tell an industry to go to hell when the need arises. Church isn’t so much a devoted country bad boy as an independent one – which of course makes him among the baddest of all. He’s Sinatra doing it his way, and Cash kicking out the lights of the Grand Ole Opry when that way doesn’t suit the suits.
“On the day I die, I know where I’m gonna go. Me and Jesus got that part worked out. I’ll wait at the gates until his face I see. And stand in a long line of sinners like me.”
D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling, award-winning author and socio-political commentator.
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