This Friday (Sept. 18), the Eric Church exhibit will open at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s an honor he’s earned in the nearly ten years since making his debut album Sinners Like Me.
But back in 2009, things weren’t all that rosy for Church.
“The label was wanting us to put out stuff that was friendlier, and we tried that,” Church told Paste magazine of the two singles he released from his second album Carolina. “There (are) two songs in my career that I’d like to have back: ‘Love Your Love The Most’ and ‘Hell On the Heart.’ Both of them were my attempt to try to get something in the Top 10 and see what happened. And we got both of ‘em in the Top 10, and nothing happened.”
Then there was “Smoke a Little Smoke.” That one made things happen, and the fans seemed to love that side of Church.
“So I went to the label, I said ‘This is what we’re putting out, or I’ll never make another album. I’ll never record for you again.’ Actually, the quote was, ‘It’s your funeral.’ So I said, ‘Okay. It’s my funeral,'” Church said.
“And they put it out and the record went gold — everybody started going back to the first one after that, looking at the whole body of work, and then Chief was next,” Church recalls of his turning point. “I think that was the first time in our career that we did something like that, and it paid off. It really allowed me to trust my instincts when we went in to make the Chief album. I didn’t go in there worrying about the radio — I went in there worried about the songs and the project and what felt right. I didn’t care about the rules.”