Garnering his third No. 1 single on the Billboard charts, Eric Church continues to buck the trends that make his contemporaries so popular. He's blazed his own trail, and "he's never happy to stay back on his own laurels," UMG CEO Mike Dungan points out at the No. 1 celebration for "Give Me Back My Hometown."
Dungan continued, noting Church's achievements in creativity, "I can't tell you what it's like to represent an artist with such integrity and meat on his bones. This guy is constantly moving." Lifted from Church's elclectically-ranged The Outsiders, "Hometown" was co-written with Nashville tastemaker Luke Laird, who hits a milestone with a record 15 chart-topping hits.
Laird has penned such tunes as Carrie Underwood's "So Small," Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" and Little Big Town's "Pontoon." Earlier this year, the songwriter landed a Grammy Award win for Best Country Album for his contributions to Kacey Musgraves' critically-acclaimed Same Trailer Different Park album. Shane MacAnally also produced.
Laird will return to the studio this fall to helm Musgraves' anticipated sophomore effort.
The hour-long ceremony featured presentations from Beth Laird and Troy Tomlinsion, of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Church's manager John Peets, CMA Senior Manager of Membership & Balloting Brandi Simms, All Access editor and broadcaster RJ Curtis, and music publising veteran and Little Loud Music executive Arturo Buenahora. Ellen May of Avenue Bank handed Church and Laird with a red envelope, a contribution to a charity of their choice.
After being presented with a No. 1 plaque and shiny gold medallion, Laird took to the podium and recalled the songwriting session that spawned the latest radio hit. "[He's] one of the greatest songwriters I've ever been in a room with," he began his story, then revealing Church's North Carolina cabin (which has no running water) became the scene of a two-day songwriting venture. While traveling to meet Church, Laird's 10-year-old truck gave out, so he decided it was time to buy a new one. After consulting with his wife Beth and knowing virtually nothing about trucks, the songwriter pulled into a dealership and traded up. Once he arrived in North Carolina, he told Church, "god, we have to write a single. I just bought at truck." Church then shared his idea of writing a song about a soldier during the Civil War, to which Laird joked, "ok...maybe we won't write a single."
But what resulted was two days of heavy songwriting and five brand new songs, including "Give Me Back My Hometown." And the rest is history.
Church then took center stage in BMI, incredibly humbled by his latest career milestone. "I understand what this means," he said, signaling to his plaque in his left hand. His heartfelt speech was brief, but he gave credit where credit is due. "I'm proud to do battle with you," he said those gathered around him on stage, making sure to honor all those at the label and the publisher.
Church's follow-up single is "Cold One."
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