Eli Young Band: From Songwriting to Singles

First of all, you should know I’m head-over-heels in love with the Eli Young Band‘s new album 10,000 Towns. So when I had the chance to gush about it to the band when they played the Windy City Smokeout festival in Chicago on Sunday (July 13), I gushed big.

And what I wanted to know more than anything, is how the band goes about picking singles when all the songs are so, so good.

“We decided a long time ago that we’d never record anything that we will refuse to have as a single. Because the second you do that, that will become the song you’re known for the rest of your career,” the group’s Jon Jones told me. (Translation: Don’t record bad songs.) “So we just don’t put any of those on the record.”

Frontman Mike Eli admitted that in the early days — like the college in Texas days — not all of the songs they wrote were hits.

“We had about a 100-to-1 ratio back then,” he said of the crappy songs to great songs ratio.

But now there’s “Dust,” which Eli didn’t write, but he still believes in with his whole heart.

“We’ve always said that once we get in the studio and start developing the song and making it what it is on the record, like with ‘Dust,’ we take ownership even if we didn’t write it. I don’t get lyric writing credit for that one, but I take credit for everything else,” Eli joked.

And what’s been so fulfilling about “Dust,” the band thinks, is how it’s crossed over into that blessed territory where everybody knows the words.

“Now, people are internalizing the words and have started singing along, so that makes it cool when you watch it take off,” Jones said of the “I’m-outta-here” tune. “That breaking point is pretty universal, and everyone has that moment when they know that there’s nothing left for you here.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.