Eli Young Band Celebrate “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” With Song’s Writers

Will Hoge, Eric Paslay Honored by ASCAP, BMI at CMA Headquarters

ASCAP and BMI, the two major performance rights organizations, commandeered the reception hall at the Country Music Association office in Nashville Monday afternoon (Aug. 20) to celebrate the recent No. 1 status of “Even if It Breaks Your Heart.”

The song was co-written by Will Hoge and Eric Paslay and recorded by the Eli Young Band, all of whom were in attendance.

After shaming the noisy crowd to order, BMI’s Jody Williams pointed to the fragments of lyrics painted high along the walls of the reception area and congratulated the CMA for taking such pains to honor with those lyrics every song and every single of the year since the organization began conferring awards.

Williams then outlined Hoge’s musical achievements, noting it is rare for a country songwriter to actually be from Nashville. Hoge, who’s affiliated with BMI, grew up in nearby Franklin, Tenn., and has been a recording and performing artist — although not a country one — since the late 1990s. During that time, he’s released 20 albums.

In 2009, he recorded his version of “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” on his CD called The Wreckage.

However, it was the Eli Young Band’s rendering that gave Hoge his first No. 1 song.

“It’s one of the coolest, most-boundary-stretching songs [in country music],” Williams proclaimed.

Williams went on to declare that the Eli Young Band is “one of the best bands you’ll ever hear. … They did not have instant radio success,” he continued, “so they worked harder.”

ASCAP’s Mike Sistad gave the laurels to Paslay, observing that the thin, lanky Texan has had three No. 1 songs within the past 12 months, the other two being Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes.”

Sistad reported that Paslay, who records for EMI Nashville, also has cuts on current albums by Lady Antebellum, David Nail and Dierks Bentley.

Jimmy Harnen, president of Republic Nashville, the Eli Young Band’s label, announced that the combined sales of “Crazy Girl,” the band’s first No. 1, and “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” amount to 2.6 million copies. “Say Goodnight,” he said, is the band’s new single.

Mike Eli spoke for the band and accepted the crowd’s applause. Of the song being honored, he said, “This song was a passion for me.”

“It’s been a wild year,” said Paslay, who departed from his acceptance remarks to salute his parents in the audience. “It’s crazy,” he marveled, “how songs get heard.”

Clearly delighted to finally have a No. 1, Hoge carried his nearly 2-year-old son, George, to the microphone.

“I’m like Sarah McLachlan and her puppies,” he said with a grin. “I brought a baby.” (His reference was to the McLachlan video condemning animal cruelty.)

Hoge said he recently sat onstage at an Eli Young Band concert and listened to the crowd of thousands sing his lyrics back to him.

Nodding toward the band that stood behind him, he said, “They truly made it [the song] an anthem.”

View photos from the No. 1 party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.