Eric Church’s “Country Music Jesus” Inspired by SCM?

July 18, 2011 - By Trigger  //  News  //  50 Comments

On July 26th, the always polarizing “new Outlaw” Eric Church will be releasing his latest album entitled Chief, which includes a song called “Country Music Jesus”. Saving Country Music has learned that the idea behind Eric Church’s “Country Music Jesus” likely inspired by none other than your humble, lovable Triggerman.

At a party for Eric Church’s fan club in Nashville on June 10th, 2011, he edified his fans with the story of how “Country Music Jesus” came about.

I holed up in a cabin for about 5 weeks, without a cell phone, TV, anything fun. There’s this writer, at the time that kinda had written a critique of the new country Outlaw movement. Said something about “I wish all these new guys would do it like the old guys did it, and make the same music, the same way, over and over.” (groans from the crowd). He said I guess we’re still waiting on a country music Jesus to save country music’s soul. I thought, “Well that’s great!’ (crowd laughs). I used that idea.

Here’s video of the event, if you can keep from being distracted by the outdated wood paneling.

Though I’ve never used the term “Country Music Jesus”, I have referred to a “Country Music Savior” on many occasions, aka a country music star that has the cultural power to right the wayward country ship. The idea of a country music “Jesus” or “Savior” is built into the mythos and tradition of country music, and has been referenced before by people like Merle Haggard. And yes, I have been very critical of the new Outlaw movement from the beginning, and specifically of Eric Church at times. I find the characterization that I “wish all these new guys would do it like the old guys did it, and make the same music, the same way, over and over” pretty laughable though.

Unlike Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” which is POTENTIALLY about me, I don’t believe this song is about a specific person, more that it’s inspired by an idea that may have been asserted by me. In an interview with The Boot, Church seemed to infer the song is to be taken ironically.

It’s one of my pet peeves… If we’re making the same music as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, why not just listen to that? They didn’t do the music before them, they completely changed. And down the line, Garth, Shania, they also changed the format. You have to be continually changing or evolving. That’s what’s healthy about music.

Eric firmly asserts that country music is currently as good as it has been in a long time. “Since I’ve been doing this, these past six years, the music is as good and as cool as any format.”

However, with Eric Church’s raging disposition for arrogance and self-promotion, there might be a possibility Eric Church is creating the “Country Music Jesus” to then appoint the title to himself. I also wonder if the “Country Music Jesus” idea was the inspiration for his self-gratifying promotional video for the ACM’s. I also don’t understand how if Eric Church thinks Waylon and Hank ‘s sound is no longer relevant, why did he evoke Waylon and Hank’s name in his song “Lotta Boot Left to Fill?”

But Eric Church is right. Making the same country music over and over is not evolution. But I can’t find where I, or anybody else has ever asserted that is what country music should do. Some might assume this is a stance that people who want to preserve the traditions of country music might take, or infer this from the artists those people promote, but this is a classic example of framing an argument around a position that doesn’t exist. I have said many times country music must evolve. Here is one such case from a recent Amanda Shires review:

…country has been trying to evolve for years, but those evolving elements have been pushed into the indie and underground realm as the mainstream devolves and looks outside of country’s big tent for commercial viability.

Find lyrics to the song below, and leave your snarky, Carly Simon-based comments below that.

There’ll be fire on the mountain

I had a revelation last night
Divine inspiration from the other side
Of what it’s gonna take to right all this wrong
We need a country music Jesus to come and save us all

We need a second coming worse than bad
Some long-haired hippie prophet preaching from the book of Johnny Cash
A sheep among the wolves there standing tall
We need a country music Jesus to come and save us all

There’ll be fire on the mountain
There’ll be revival and banging drums
There’ll be screaming and there’ll be shouting
When my country music Jesus comes

We’ve had our believers in the past
And they gave us a message that would last
They built our house on a foundation of stone
God send a country music Jesus to come and save us all

[Chorus (x2)]
There’ll be fire on the mountain
There’ll be revival and banging drums
There’ll be screaming and there’ll be shouting
When my country music Jesus comes

When my country music Jesus comes

50 Comments to “Eric Church’s “Country Music Jesus” Inspired by SCM?”

  • I thought the song would at lease say SOMETHING, with a title like “country music jesus.” you expect some kind of point or stand to be made. Those lyrics say nothing…. completely impotent.

    • I agree. If he wants people to take it ironically, there’s nothing in the lyrics to imply that.

  • I love the article trigg. Ive always been a EC fan and i love his music but i dont like what he said about Waylon. Im really not sure what to think anymore but you gotta give it to him this albums a hell of alot better than outlaws like me lol

  • Hank wasn’t playing the music that came before him? What?

    Hank admitted his vocal style came from him trying to make a hybrid of Roy Acuff, and Ernest Tubb. He played loads of traditional songs, that had been around for generations before he started playing them. He was extremely true to roots, and traditions.

    I’m a real bad person to speak on the evolution of country music, as I’m a pretty hardcore traditionalist. But there is a huge difference between a hybrid that works, and sounds good, and a hybrid that no one will care about, or remember, in 5 years.

    What an arrogant piece of shit.

    • Im just as Hardcore traditionalist as you but i think Eric sounds good Im a rock fan too so that could be why

    • And i dont know about you but if countrys gonna evolve id rather it evolve towards rock than pop just my opinion man.

    • I’m a firm believer that country can evolve and still keep the tie to it’s roots. Many examples of this working can be found all over this site.

  • I find the characterization that I “wish all these new guys would do it like the old guys did it, and make the same music, the same way, over and over” pretty laughable though.

    That’s just how these people roll. A few weeks back, Carrie Underwood more or less implied that traditional country fans like to hear the same song over and over. They have to misrepresent our positions to give theirs any credibility. Straw men are all they have.

  • He’s arrogant. He’s an asshole. He’s also a dude that writes/sings some really good songs. His newest single ‘Homeboy,” is a pretty good tune. Sinners Like Me, Lightning, Pledge Allegiance to the Hag, and What I almost One are just a few songs that are very good, IMO of course. From what I’ve heard off the new album, it will be better than the last and maybe as good as the first. I won’t let his assholiness keep me from hearing some good tunes. I’ve seen a few people on here say they’ve listened to the album. Has it leaked? I’m very ready to hear the Trigs review on the new one. Don’t let the hatred for him skew your opinion on the music. That’s all I ask.

    • The only song I’ve heard for the album is Homeboy and I gave it a positive review. I’ll have a full review of the album once copies are available.

  • I am interested in this album.

    I don’t know that I would agree that this song may have inspired by SCM, since Chruch states it was a “writer” that made the comments and most singers use “writer”, as in songwriter. I would have expected him to say journalist or blogger if he was referencing this site.

    • Ya think? I would think he would say “songwriter” if he meant “songwriter” I dont think Mr. Church would not say what he dont mean, come on i mean think about what your saying.Did you even listen to what he said hahah ” a writer that had written a critique” click this for more education on what words mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique Your ignorance is funny, you just want trouble.

  • Another thing is, the music of Johnny Cash is different from that of Hank Williams and the music of Waylon Jennings is different from the music of Johnny Cash. I’m sure you have considered the fact that there must have been people who were saying back in the 1960′s saying,”Country music is going to hell just look at this Johnny Cash guy. He’s wearing around all black and doing free concerts in prisons and incorporating Rockabilly and writing songs about cocaine,” Now, I’m not saying that I love Country radio, but I do hear songs that I like. I like the Zac Brown Band even though they are probably closer to The Eagles than George Jones. Hell, I even like some songs by Toby Keith, no matter how cheesy they are. I seems like to me that you judge music by genre. Now genres can be useful for finding music that you like but for judging it. Is it a good song, not is it a good Country song or good Pop-Country song or Rock song. Just my view.

    • I have to agree with Jeb on this. There is always going to be some evolution in music. However, most evolutions end up using a new name for their sound. Ragtime-Jazz-Swing-Big Band-Blues-R & B. They all have the same roots but took them in a different direction. In Rock music you have heavy metal, pop rock, Ska, etc. Country should symbolize the traditional country. New country needs to come up with their own title for the genre. I do like some songs and some artists of the new country. Zac Brown Band is amazing but I would not consider them country. They are more of a mesh between country style sounds and easy listening rock. I think this issue comes down to more the ‘new’ country artists wanting to be in the same category as Sr, Cash, Jennings, etc and being frustrated because they can’t. The music just isn’t the same.

  • Excellent article Trigger Man.I do like some of Eric’s stuff but you hit the nail right on the head with the comment about if “Eric Church thinks Waylon and Hank ‘s sound is no longer relevant, why did he evoke Waylon and Hank’s name in his song “Lotta Boot Left to Fill?” ”
    An excellent point.It sound like Eric needs to make up his mind.

    • Ignoring the fact that Eric never implied that Waylon and Hank’s sound are no longer relevant. Eric’s song “Lotta Boot Left To Fill” was inspired by the words of Waylon’s song “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”. The point I want to emphasize is that the LYRICS were inspired by the WORDS of those two songs. Not the SOUND. Even if Eric did say Waylon and Hank’s sound was irrelevant, it would not be hypocritical to separate the lyrics from the sound and still find meaning/importance in the lyrics.

      • That’s a fair point. I do think Eric has been trying to open up some new “sounds” for country music, with some hit’s and some misses. But Eric is still trying to play both sides of the fence. The message of “Boot Left to Fill” is that Nashville is producing gimmicks. But then to The Boot he said: ““Since I’ve been doing this, these past six years, the music is as good and as cool as any format.” OK, so which one is it? And if he wants us to separate the words from the music, then he needs to say that. Is Waylon old worn-out music, or do we need to do it his way? It’s confusing.

        • I can see where people would get the idea that “Lotta Boot Left to Fill” is a rant on the whole Nashville system, but I’ve never viewed it that way. In light of events while Eric was on the Rascall Flatt’s tour several year ago, I’ve always seen this as his shot across the bow to them in particular. Some of the lyrics: Pretty boys acting tough, Boy bands give it up. Also, I’ve heard him call out artists in general who are only looking to extend their 15 minutes of fame, another sentiment that seems to be expressed in this song. So I could see how 3 different people could interpret this song 3 different ways; a shot to one artist/band in particular, a group of artists, or the whole Nashville system. I think we can agree that Eric should make his intent less ambiguous when writing songs or talking to the press.

  • Wow. My brain shut down after he said Garth and Shania follow in the same path with Hank, cash, Jennings. If that’s how his mind works, then I don’t really want to know what he has to say on anything.
    His same logic in rock music would be; Rolling Stones > Led Zeppelin > Poison.
    If that correlation doesn’t bother you..

    • I concur.

    • Hank, Cash, and Jennings made music that was widely considered country right?
      Garth and Shania made music that was widely considered country right?
      Garth and Shania have also left their footprint on the genre and influenced others that have emerged since them, right?
      Where do you have a problem with Eric’s statement?

      • Shania. Shania is where I have a problem with that statement. Garth gets blamed for a lot of the commercialization and popification of country, some of it unfairly. From a current perspective, his music was quite country. From a current perspective, Shania is still pop, and may have been the true beginning of pop’s resurgence in the country genre.

    • Just to follow through on your analogy, I don’t think Poison ever tried to be the Stones or Zeppelin. They played fun, lite rock, hair metal as an excuse to dress up like and attract girls. I think I’ve heard members of the band say as much in interviews. Viewed in that light, they have been highly successful. More power to them.

      The problem I would have is if Poison professed how “metal” they were and compared themselves to Sabbath and Motorhead. They don’t do that. They get a pass from me. This is the same way I feel about Rascal Flatts. They are not pretending to be Waylon or Johnny Cash, they are trying to be Chicago. Not my cup of tea, but fine by me.

      The thing that bothers me is people trying to be something they are not. All these poser “outlaws” really seem like insiders to me; taking either side when it is most convenient to them.

  • ” I also don’t understand how if Eric Church thinks Waylon and Hank ‘s sound is no longer relevant, why did he evoke Waylon and Hank’s name in his song ‘Lotta Boot Left to Fill?’ ”

    Careful with the straw man Trig. Eric never said Waylon and Hank’s sound is no longer relevant and the quotes in this article certainly don’t lead me to believe Eric feels that way. They only point out that he doesn’t believe current artists should remake the music that was made previously. In my opinion, most of the artists that ride the coattails (<- read: remake the music) of their predecessors aren't being respectful of the artistic ability that the greats possessed. They're just looking to extend their time in the spotlight by using a tried and true formula that was forged by someone else.
    My personal viewpoint is on both sides of the fence. I have no problem with someone copying Waylon's sound, Hank's sound, etc… as long as they're doing it with reverence and not to simply bring in the money. Although I don't think it is reasonable to expect it to be widespread, commercially viable; for a reason I won't expand on here or this could become a wall of text. (I can be long-winded at times) On the other side of the fence, I feel that music as an art-form must be an outlet of creativity. And creativity can lead to works of art that will be 'bizarre', 'different', and 'unique'.

  • There is no such thing as a Country Music Jesus. There is no R&R Jesus. No Rappin’ Jesus either.

    For God so loved the world He gave His one and ONLY SON, the son of man, the trinity, EMMANUEL, to forgive sins. If Eric Church wants to write a song about Jesus to glorify His HOLY name, then that is one thing. If Eric Church wrote a song about Jesus to promote his career, then that’s something else.

    Great blog Triggerman.

    • There is a Rock n Roll Jesus! see Kid Rock. haha.

      These are songs/music. Gotta relax a bit.

    • Denise, Is this a Poe? If not, then all I can say is… WOW!

  • Waiting to hear the new album, but is it possible that Church maybe has worked the system from the inside out? He got in, made some albums that were radio friendly and got labels to back him, and now, with that backing, and with this little uprising of “new outlaws” maybe Church is a more of an outlaw than we give him credit because he is now making his own stuff.

    Some seem to forget that Waylon, Willie, Cash, etc… didn’t just roll into Nashville and say “here is the music I am making.” No, they danced the dance too. Then they broke out.

    There clearly are some “toy outlaws” that are just going with the latest trend, but there are others that are the real deal and were the reason that “trend” started in the past couple years.

  • [...] Did The Triggerman inspire an Eric Church song? [...]

  • average voice, marginal instrumentation, no experience, no presence.

  • I think artists like Hank 3, Wayne Hancock and Dale Watson have shown that you can still sound traditional without “making the same music, the same way, over and over”. New “country” isn’t “country” to me. I read an article in Guitar Player where even Brent Mason said that he had to play more in a “’70′s rock guitar” style now, than he did 15 or 20 years ago. That’s because it’s not country anymore, it’s ’70′s-style country-rock. “New” country singers are about as country as a suburban strip mall.

  • I know that everything’s subjective, but I just don’t get the adoration for EC. I can’t believe anyone even suspects that he has some “outlaw” in him. If we could roll back the clock and country music was divided into the Chet Atkins big slick sound on one side, and the Waylon, Tom T. Hall, Willie rebellion on the other, Church would fall squarely in the Atkins camp.

    The proof is in his own words: “Since I’ve been doing this, these past six years, the music is as good and as cool as any format.” If he truly believes that this era of Urban, Chesney, Swift, Rascal Flats, CMA/CMT/ACM, etc. is “as good” as ever, then he doesn’t have a shred of insight into roots “outlaw” (I kinda hate that label) country music. He’s just a young, arrogant poser trying to be “bad” like those he supposedly scorns…

    • Sounds to me like you think that being anti-slick music makes you an outlaw. Here’s some reading for you:

      Once and for all what makes an outlaw

      Also, Eric didn’t say that the music was as good as it has ever been. He compared the current country format with other formats and stated that it was just as good/cool. And certainly you can realize that he doesn’t have to approve of everyone in Nashville to think that the country music format is cool right now. I know for a fact that he doesn’t approve of the Flatts boys.

  • I was checking out youtube and songs from the next album are there. here are some links.


    I personally enjoy most of them. Probably a little more polished then what most like. But I do believe there is a difference between Eric and (Darius,Flatts,Urban etc).

    If it’s your Shot of Whiskey enjoy, If not get a different Drink.

  • Eric Church=country music jesus… just listen to his music and enjoy it, unlike other artists these days, alot of his music is about his life, which is why it is so appealing to people, because it pertains to our lives

  • More like the Country Music Anti-Christ if you ask me.

    • Panda nobody asked you. If he aint the country music jesus he sure is one hell of a prophet. Just my opinion. Eric aint the problem here pop is!!!!!

    • Exactly.

  • For those who don’t know…Lotta Boot, was actually written before the first Eric album, “sinners”. Hence what he was feeling at the time before everything in the format was good.

    Here is what cracks me up though. As songwriters, we try to write songs that people want to hear. When we try and frame them like older tunes, we get called copy cats, when we drop names in the line of a song, while it maybe a new sound. Folks roll us under the bus for that.

    FYI, Waylon came to Nashville with A sound that no one would play at the time. And eventually they came around. His sound was A lot like Buddy Holly’s as he was in buddys band. Music will always be evolving, I think church is actually doing the format a favor of trying to rid Nashville of the pop crap

  • Don’t know if you’ve seen this or not, it’s a couple days old, but in this interview he says “a particular critic, who shall remain nameless for now” inspired Country Music Jesus. http://www.cmt.com/news/country-music/1668024/eric-church-talks-tough-about-chief.jhtml?rsspartner=rssSimplePie

  • I was at EC’s fan club party at United Record Pressing in Nashville and I instantly thought of this website when he described ‘Country Music Jesus’. I wonder if the news would get back to someone here and I guess it did indeed. LOL

  • The Triggerman’s opinion is as good as anyone elses.

  • Dear Eric

    * Let me tell you who Jesus is/He’s the Rock of all ages/He’s the Alpha and the Omega/He’s the heavenly Father/the beginning and the end/much more than this my friend/He’s the Son of Man/He’s coming back again

    *I did not write these lyrics.

  • While I find this guy less offensive than a lot of what is being passed off as country nowadays. Most of this stuff sounds like the same drivel (with a little more twang) designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Is it as bad as Jason Aldean? No, but that doesn’t necessarily make it good, more like the lesser of two evils.
    you want the real deal? Dale Watson, The Derailers, BR549, Chuck Mead, Gary Bennett, Jason Capps, Sarah Gayle Meech, Elizbeth Cook, Mandy Barnett, J.B. Beverley, Otis Gibbs Wayne Hancock, Knut Bell etc. Hell there’s a whole crop of former punk rockers that are making records that actually move me, unlike most of whats labeled country. lookup Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan, Tumbledown, Kevin Seconds, John Doe, Joey Cape, Austin Lucas, Josh Black Wilkins, Derek Hoke, Db Harris.

  • Everybody has their own taste.
    I dont care for EC at all. I’d much rather sit in silence than listen to his music…
    I listen to Hank and Waylon over and over again and I am proud of that…
    If he would make real music with some content, maybe I would listen to him…

    Before you argue your point, read the lyrics to the song Triggerman posted above and have at it…

  • awesome song love it

  • If I had to consider anybody as a “Country Jesus’ I would have figured it to be HANK3. As much as I love HANK3′s “KUNTRY”…I think he was more country and enjoyable “under” the domain of that asshole in the “Curb”. I know that aint a popular opinion…but my opinion is that HANK3 kicks better KuntryAss when there’s a fuckin money mongrel at the helm.

    • Tim McGraw and Hank3 have one thing in common: their musical quality has declined since leaving Curb.

  • Having been to one of Eric’s shows I can honestly say that he is an extremely talented musician and performer. However I obviously would not classify him as playing the same kind of music that George strait or The bro traditionalists played. With that being said folks like Merle and Waylon had a lot of rock influence in their music back in the 60s so I think Eric is simply playing country with a strong sound of today’s rock, and it most certainly isn’t pop rock. Keep in mind Eric openly bashed Blake shelton for appearing ok the voice and he is genuine when parking about his music. Is he an outlaw? Not compared to jc or Waylon but there is something different about his sound and his relatable lyrics that sets him apart from Luke Bryan and the the others. Also there is no way to show up in Nashville and think that you can do whatever you want and get somewhere so he obviously had to release some questionable material but over all as a fan of traditional sounding country I can appreciate his music for what it is. Just my opinion, felt I had to defend him seeing as his show was quite good.

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