Eric Church’s New Pot Anthem “Smoke A Little Smoke”

June 30, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Down with Pop Country  //  60 Comments

Eric ChurchBy his own account, pop country’s so called ‘New Outlaw’ Eric Church doesn’t mind ruffling feathers. With his new pot anthem “Smoke A Little Smoke,” he’s doing that very thing, and not just with the morality police.

Of course Eric Church fans are eating this song up like a bowl of Count Chocula in a munchie attack, but even some professed non Eric Church fans are praising this song as “catchy.” In my dirty little music world, calling a song “catchy” is an insult, though if your mind is numbed by years of exposure to pop country, a song with some glittering electronica and simple layering might sound like a musical wonderland. Maybe a nameless sound engineer deserves a pat on the back for this song, but beyond that, it’s bad, and not in the Michael Jackson kind of way.

Some are praising the song’s originality, but a few Frank Zappa fans are crying foul that the title and lyric of “Smoke a Little Smoke” are ripped from Zappa’s anti-disco song Dancing Fool (@ 3:10). A similar line is also in another pot song, Do It All Again by Chad Hatcher, and I wonder if Collective Soul is expecting royalties for the “Yeah” part in the chorus. Honestly its all within the realm of poetic license, but it’s a little hard to make the argument this song is rich with originality.

Meanwhile well-adjusted pop country fans who for the most part have staved away the perversion of drugs in their music are finding themselves at Eric Church concerts, shocked by all the pot references, and not just in this this song. Eric’s gone pot crazy, throwing pot leaves around on all his merch, tweezing his thumb and first finger together on stage in the universal pot sign. It’s pot peetie pot pot–let’s all ride the purple Snuffleupagus to pot-ilicious pot-land!

How did this perversion slip out of Music Row? No worries, the radio single is censored courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville who knows all about morality, as they once sued a charity representing the grieving families of dead firefighters. (There’s a Smoke/Fire pun in here somewhere, but I’ll spare you.) Apparently they mince the words a bit to make it seem this song is talking about “cigarettes and alcohol,” once again pointing out that Music Row thinks its fans are stupid. If Eric Church had stood up for this song, it would’ve finally given me a chance to stand up for him. But instead he gave in to his label’s bid for mass appeal.

A check of Eric Church’s merch illustrated to me what all this pot nonsense is REALLY about.



The Grateful Dead Skull RosesThe marijuana leaf and pot references have long since been used as marketing tools, but it’s never been taken out of context like this. The first shirt is clearly a play for Grateful Dead fans with it’s skeletons and roses. Really? If you can find ONE true hippie at an Eric Church concert, I’ll eat my hat.

Hank III 100% HellbillyAs for the other shirt: I’ve been saying for a while, the whole scheme behind these “New Outlaws” is to eradicate the country music underground by attempting to incorporate them. Right now disgruntled country fans might make up half the genre, but a lot of those fans have not come from mainstream country, but from punk, metal, classic rock backgrounds, thus the black skull and pot motif. Once again, they are stealing plays out of the playbook. Problem is, the music is still the same old tired pop song.

But except for all of that, I think this song is GREAT!

Oh, and for all the Eric Church fans, you’re right, I AM jealous of Eric Church. An no, I haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and listen to his songs. You win.

60 Comments to “Eric Church’s New Pot Anthem “Smoke A Little Smoke””

  • To paraphrase Lewis Black, Corporate Nashville must think we are nothing more than meat with eyes.

  • Man, that pretty much sums it up.

  • Apparently we have an answer to the question:

    What happens after every underground country act has ripped off Hank III’s logos?

    The mainstream acts start to do it, too.

    At first I was kind of pissed at this dude, but now I think it’s kind of funny. What? This dude thinks he is both Pantera and the Grateful Dead … pandering to the highest degree. Too funny.

  • According to his wikipedia, he has a degree in marketing. I won’t begrudge someone an education, but when something seems overly contrived you have to consider the source.

  • A degree in marketing huh? Well that just fits. I don’t think I’ll listen to the song, but I might just take his advice…

  • More like blow a little smoke . . . in someone’s eyes. I cannot say I dislike Eric’s music because I don’t listen to it. I can say I dislike everything Corporate Nashville is up to. I gots me a degree in marketing also: from the schoolofhardknocks.com and am currently accepting new clients. Call me Nashville! I think I got some ideas you’re just gonna luv!
    P.S. Don’t be jealous Triggerman. You know more about music than he does.

  • Pot Good.
    Misguided artists bad.

  • As a fan of authentic country music I think this guy sucks.

    As an advocate of Marijuana Legalization I think this guy is doing a little bit better. Any and all voices promoting the sweet leaf are speaking my language.

    Even dip shits should be able to smoke. ;)

  • Clearly not original though.

  • Why do I not believe Eric has even smoked a normal cigarette.. let alone a joint?

    • ummm he went too app state.. theres no way he hasnt smoked weed!

  • i have never seen or heard of eric church… I WIN!

  • Kid Rock is bound to team up with this permed steam-pressed pussy. An underground band should find somethin to sue him over to expose his infringements and simultaneously expose themselves.

  • I keep hoping somebody sues me for that same reason.

  • Jason,

    This dude is NOT a good poster boy for the pro pot crowd.

    I’m all for making pot legal. It would make dumb songs like this irrelevant.

  • Big A,

    You know the first time I wrote about this dude I was surprised he was able to rip off Waylon and George Jones all in the same song. With this one, he pissed of fans of Zappa, Hank III, The Grateful Dead, some hip hop/reggae dude, and a pseudo-Christian band from the early 90’s. Oh, AND the holy rollers. That’s a crowd more diverse than the one that hangs out at the Mos Eisley Space Port.

    Actually I don’t know if the Collective Soul world is up in arms, but Eric Church is just so fun to Dogpile.

  • Triggerman, I’d be curious to read your thoughts on Dierks Bentley’s “bluegrass” album. It sounds like standard country crap with a banjo and a fiddle turned up in the mix to me. It does have some guests on it that probably make those songs better so it ain’t all bad. One Amazon review has it right I think: “Popgrass”. God, I hope Nashville doesn’t turn to bluegrass now that they have their outlaws going.

  • You know somethin has irked me about this fucker. Seems weird that it has been printed several times that Hank III’s grass roots, loyal following has been likened to that of the Greatful Dead … And here you have a pop-country ‘star’ with T-shirts blatantly ripping off III and the ‘Dead. With Music Row recently manufacturing so-called ‘Outlaws’ to try to cash in on the genuine success of Hank III and trying to counter it … I think like you’ve said, it’s the workings of the record company and not so much Church himself. Thus making the whole thing even more lame.You know there had to have been several executive meetings concerning the chart placings of III’s last 2 albums.It would probably surprise us.

  • David,

    I would not be surprised at all if some marketing guru at Capitol is meticulously going through the history of Hank III and pulling out every play. Of course I don’t know that for a fact, but those pictures tell 1000 words. I asserted that theory BEFORE this song and these shirts showed up. With every new Eric Church move, the evidence mounts.

  • I actually feel a little bad that you feel like you have to keep an eye on these pop country people in defense of real country. I can honestly say I’ve never even heard of this Church guy except for reading about him here… He’s not worth the wasted space on your page and he doesn’t deserve the extra exposure. I know you think you should be watching out for these guys and their slippery shenanigans but in the end who cares.. I’d say it’s not worth your time or web-site space to keep track these nash-trash people. ROCK

  • Though the song is kind of “Catchy,” it seems like kind of a rip off of Hank III’s “A Little Bit Of Smoke And A Whole Lot Of Wine.”

  • Ernie,

    I have a rule here: For every negative article I write bashing music, I must write 2 supporting good music, and usually the ratio is even greater than that, even though sometimes it may not feel that way because these negative articles usually get so much more attention.

    Don’t feel bad for me, I do it because I love it. And if Music Row is attempting to siphon money out of the underground and ripping off artists I love, I am going to defend them, because in the long run that is supporting the music as well.

    Also I feel pretty confident I am not helping Eric Church, I DO stay on guard about that, because you’re right, sometimes you can help someone with negative publicity. But Eric is not liked, even in a lot of pop country circles. He pissed off Rascal Flats when he opened for them, and now the word is all the people on the “Country Throwdown” tour he was on are pissed at him. He’s a self-professed unapologetic asshole.

  • Kocis,

    You’re totally right.Why in the hell did I not think of that? Maybe because there are so many other songs he was ripping off at the same time, you get lost!

    If Hank III was actually paying attention to anything happening beyond the four walls of the Haunted Ranch, he be roasting this asshole.

    These “New Outlaws” have a rich and storied tradition of being ripoffs. Gretchen Wilson was legally forced to put the Black Crows as songwriters on “Work Hard, Play Harder” because its was such an obvious ripoff.

  • “Popgrass”? I think I’m gonna have nightmares now. “Jamgrass” is bad enough!

  • Sorry about putting this here, but I didn’t know where else to go. This was put on billboard.com in mid June. Ronnie Van Zant must be rolling in his grave.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd Gets Country Tribute From Eric Church, Jamey Johnson

    Sixteen years after a group of country music’s “Skynyrd Frynds” paid tribute to Southern rock heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd, another batch of artists is doing the same.

    Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Eric Church and Uncle Kracker are among those who have recorded tracks for “Sweet Home Alabama — The Country Music Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd,” which comes out July 20 exclusively at Wal-Mart. Produced primarily by Jay Joyce (Church, Miranda Lambert, Leann Rimes, Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights), the eight-track collection mixes an assortment of Skynyrd classics — “Simple Man” by Houser, “Gimme Three Steps” by the Eli Young Band, “Call Me the Breeze” by Shooter Jennings, “Tuesday’s Gone” by Randy Montana and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Joyce protege Ashley Ray — with more obscure cuts such as “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” (Church), “Four Walls of Raiford” (Johnson) and “All I Can Do Is Write About It” by Uncle Kracker.

    “It’s all these young country bucks doing Skynyrd songs, which is pretty cool to us,” Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant tells Billboard.com. “It gives me great pleasure, because they’re doing older stuff…my brother (Ronnie Van Zant) wrote while he was still alive. People still love that stuff. They did what he did. He was a poet for the common people, and it’s always great when other people are interested enough to re-do the songs.”

    Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington, the group’s soul surviving founding member, executive-produced the 1994 “Skynyrd Frynds” album, which featured covers by artists such as Alabama, Travis Tritt, Steve Earle, the Mavericks, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr., and Wynonna, who handled “Free Bird.” That album peaked at No. 8 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 56 on the Billboard 200, while Alabama’s version of “Sweet Home Alabama” reached No. 75 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

    Skynyrd had no involvement in “Sweet Home Alabama,” which Joyce recorded mostly in Nashville with a house band. Jennings recorded and co-produced his track, partly in Billings, Mont., while Johnson performed “Four Walls of Raiford” accompanied only by Cowboy Eddie Long on dobro.

    Skynyrd is currently on a summer tour that lasts until Sept. 3, mostly with Bret Michaels and .38 Special. The group releases “Live From Freedom Hall,” recorded at a 2007 concert in Louisville, Ky., on June 22, and Van Zant says Skynyrd is hoping for a quick follow-up to last year’s studio set, “God & Guns.”

    “We’re always writing,” he explains, “and there’s some (songs) that we’ve recorded that we’ve never put out, too. We could sit back and play the old stuff and make money, but for us as artists, hell, we’ve got to be creative, too. Lynyrd Skynyrd has always been about writing songs and talking to people through them. That’s what we do, and that’s what we’ll keep doing for as long as we can.”

    The full track listing for “Sweet Home Alabama — The Country Music Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd” includes:

    “The Ballad Of Curtis Loew,” Eric Church
    “Simple Man,” Randy Houser
    “All I Can Do Is Write About It,” Uncle Kracker
    “Call Me The Breeze,” Shooter Jennings
    “Four Walls Of Raiford,” Jamey Johnson
    “Tuesday’s Gone,” Randy Montana
    “Gimme Three Steps,” the Eli Young Band
    “Sweet Home Alabama, Ashley Ray

  • they want to create an outlaw country robot. a controlable hank III replica that sells good. FUCK HIM!

  • I had this guy pegged as a pole-smoker the first time I saw him and he (no shit) compared himself to Steve Earle. The song could be a lot worse but the t-shirts are inexcusable.

  • Well, I for one know Eric personally. I can say he is very good at what he does. He writes or co writes all songs and is not another george straight. He is good at marketing himself and his music. I was at the bluebird for his first time there and for his call back on feature writer sunday night. i saw how he captivated the crowd, had them hangen on each word. I knew in 2000 Eric Church would be a star and this is the song to put him there. If he releases I dont think Hank did it that way cut it will further push him along. he knows his crowd, his listeners and more so what the public wants. To the person whom stated they doubt E has smoked a cig let alone anything else proclaiming him to be a fake, I can also say he is NOT fake. E always drank Jack n Coke hardly ever beer. He does smoke cigs though trying to quit and as a group of 6 20 somethings running Nashville;s honkey tonks we did other things as well. Now I am NOT in ANY way saying E is a drug addict or Pot head just saying as youngsters we had fun and it was a fun ride watching him rise to the top of Nashville and will be just as fun to watch his rise to stardom now!!! god bless you e…now put out one of our old school songs such as Crown or Brandy so I can get a few pennies lol…J/K bro if you read this God Bless!! and keep rockin it real!!! BTW his Bro brandon is a good writer as well and hope they continue to colabrate on music such as how Bout You and without you here keep it up guys

  • this asshole is gonna do a cover of “The Ballad Of Curtis Loew,” we gotta stop that from happening.

  • Well that’s fitting seeing that he right classic rock songs. Most of these people wanna be Lynyrd Skynrd anyway.

  • very true Shot. i just really hate it because that is probably my favorite Skynrd song.

  • Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure why you care whether or not he sings about pot, smokes it or is cleaning one. You don’t like him, you don’t like his music, move on. And I’m wondering why you’re so sure that Hank III wouldn’t care for him. Have you met either? I’ve met both after watching them play. It is the SAME crowd. Well, I take that back. Anyone over age, say, 50 left for Hank III’s metal portion of the evening.

  • ha tana very true!!! and that is funny bout remake curtis loew. We use to go to a bar outside smryna just south of Nashville, and would do karoke and that song “curtis Lowe” and Wanted by Bon Jovi is the two songs eric myself, and jon stone would get asked to do every weekend. Rock it out E

  • Andy: It’s too late. EC has already recorded that Skynyrd classic. The CD will be out in two weeks. By the way, Jamey Johnson has recorded Four Walls of Raiford for the CD as well.

    Tana: You’re right. The same crowd that shows up for Eric Church concerts are the same folks that go to Hank III’s concerts as well.

  • Absolutely no way an Eric Church crowd and Hank III crowd are the same crowd.

    Not saying their shirts may not look the same (see above).

    I would put the amount of bleed over at about 10%-15%.

  • I am bleed over.

  • …but I agree that in general the crowds are different.

  • They were the same at the shows that I attended. A Hank III show in Birmingham, Alabama, and a EC show in Tuscaloosa. Same type of person and I personally know of several people who were at both shows.

  • Some Eric Church fans may have went to a Hank III show out of curiosity, but a true III fan would puke at the thought of an Eric Church show.

    • Not true!!! I have seen Hank111 several times. I also have tickets to see EC on May 11th. You can’t compare their music as being the same, but I assure you that fans like me like both of them!!!

  • I am a long time country fan and I personally think that Eric Church’s music is amazing. He has 2 CDs that are awesome beginning to end and his outlaw image has prevented him from getting the country radio playtime he deserves. He is hardly the pretty boy or plagiarist you have made him out to be. I am a huge fan of Waylon, Merle, and Johnny Cash- Eric Church and Jamey Johnson are as close as you are going to get to those guys these days. I think that the song’s meaning is obvious. There might be some that are naive enough to think otherwise but that is their problem. And Eric church is not a “pop” country artist- you must be confused. “Pop” country is Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, etc

  • Pillsbury Dough Boy-
    I have had great times at Eric Church shows and I love Hank III’s music. There are a lot of different people out there whose musical tastes might overlap yours and extend to other artists that you don’t like.

    There are too many fans of country music to be reliably put in to strictly defined sub-groups of fans. There will always be a lot outliers when that’s attempted.

  • Oh, thank God I finally found you Triggerman! I have desperately tried calling your cellphone, but you won’t answer. Jason told me you posted articles on here. I can’t believe after that magical night we spent together you would blow me off! The way you sucked my penis with so much love, I can’t get it off my mind! I know I told you I didn’t like to give head, only receive, but now I think I’m ready for you to be my first. Call me when you get this. You know who it is!

  • That’s right Jack, I pushed “Approve” on your dumb comment.

    And I won’t let it affect my opinion that most Eric Church fans are good people, who just have a different opinion about music than I do, and are willing to fight for an artist they believe in, which believe it or not is an attribute I admire and respect.

    • Basically man you don’t like Church because you think he rips off lyrics and is a “pop country artist”. I disagree, you show me one established artist who hasn’t crossed genres at some point or another. I don’t think his music could be labeled as pop, its more like country-rock. He doesn’t really worry that much about how the public views him, for example watch the youtube videos of him playing his songs acoustic on a tailgate. The guitar playing is simple because that’s the best he can do but his music is common. If he was that worried about public image he would only play with a band backing him where his simple strums would be drown out. Try playing guitar and seeing in front of a crowd with them judging your every move, its not easy. My point is he plays common music for the everyday common man who fees he can relate to it. My final thought is that people may turn against him, some may love him. It is simply human nature, people love to criticize or hate what they don’t understand. I’ve enjoyed his music since he first started and will continue to do so but Triggerman no offense dude, but there a lot of other artists you should be bashing.

  • I’ve been to Hank’s shows at least 7 times in the last 2 years. There’s no way the two crowds are the same. Never been to a Eric Church show. Probably never will. Those pics of the t-shirts are such a rip-off. You can say they might be a tribute, but I doubt it. This must be pop country’s “other black friend”.

  • EricChurchGirl,
    Without putting down Eric Church (and frankly I’ve never listened to him, so I have no right to put him down), I must disagree with your comment that he is “as close to Waylon, Merle, and Cash as you are going to get these days”. Please give Whitey Morgan & the 78’s, Hellbound Glory, Dale Watson, Lucky Tubb, and J.B. Beverley & the Wayward Drifters a listen. If you like the old “outlaws”, I guarentee you’ll find something you like in the above mentioned artists.

  • I grew up on all the so- called “Outlaws” Waylon,Cash, Merle, Hank Jr., Coe, George Jones,(yes,he was a “outlaw” think about it) etc. I think that country music has taken a turn for the worst with the new “Bubble Gum” music directed at 14yr old Teenage Girls and “tweens”. Eric Church seems to be avoiding this with his Southern Rock and Country mix that shows he’s trying something new with a touch of the old 70s outlaw roots. I support everything he’s doing and we need more like him to combat this teenage pop movement coming from Nashville lately!

  • There’s plenty of people combating the teenage pop movement. They’ve been doing it for years. Now Eric Church is ripping them off.

  • For all of you Eric Church bashers, I urge you to attend one of his concerts and listen to the “non-single” tracks on his albums (these tracks are much better than the singles, imo), and then come back and tell me what you think. I just don’t think it’s fair that you judge a writer-singer without listening to his writing and singing. And how about Hank Jr. invited EC to tour with him on his Rowdy Friends Tour…that bucket may hold water, ay?? And for the Stoners out there, yes he smokes pot. 4 of the 5 shows I’ve seen live, he was blitzed. but I’m sure that doesn’t matter, right? Cause smoking pot is soooo mainstream, right? Triggerman, the fact that you’re so hell-bent on blasting him, I especially urge you to attend a show. Otherwise, your opinion has no substance. And remember, any press is good press, so thanks for spreading the work of EC.

  • he sings polished songs like “i love yourlove the most” (how creative)” and “pink thin line”. Lame as hell.

  • …and Hank III ripped off his t-shirt design from Jack Daniels. So…???

  • I don’t understand why you people can’t just let people listen to their music. If his music speaks to certain people more than others…WHO CARES?! Just let him be and sing his music how he wants to sing it and put what he wants on his shirts.

  • I think it’s funny how hes getting hit so harshly about the references to pot. I am one of the most “clean cut” people I know, and I’ve been high several times. People need to shut the fuck up about how “baadddd” weed is. Give me a fuckin’ break. And I’m not saying the song is five stars on any account. But really?……….and Val, I think you made a comment on here as well…funny!

  • “Right now disgruntled country fans might make up half the genre, but a lot of those fans have not come from mainstream country, but from punk, metal, classic rock backgrounds…”

    the funny thing is a lot of the same things being said about country can be said about metal, metal heads, real metal heads not that little kid shit that laughably gets called metal now days appreciate music that’s real, and (real) country musicians can’t be anything but, that’s why hank williams is the imo the singer ever to live not because he had a voice like Dickinson or played like dimebag but his music came from a place of complete sincerity and you can hear it in his voice.

  • Hey Eric Church what’s up. Oh and by the way i have something to say to you. Eric Church are you very very very very ticklish. Because if you are ticklish where will your ticklish be. Is it your bare belly or your bare feet. Where will your ticklish be right now. If you found your ticklish find someone and let them tickle you. You maybe will wiggle around and even try to get away. But if you were tied up from hands to feet. If that would happened to you and you will NEVER NEVER try to get away that easily. Being ticklish tough because when someone will try to tickle you they will never ever will stop they will keep on doing it until you are gigging so so hard you won’t even breathe. they will tickle you for about an hour or more than an hour to be tickled.
    Your fan girl who will find out if you are ticklish are not,
    Desirae Sarah Knitt

  • Did Eric not call you back? How about some facts for an article before just going on a rant… JFC

  • So where’s the hate towards Willie Nelson? He is equivalent to Hank, Strait, and other country gods of that time? Willie wrote albums deticated to cannibus. Eric Church’s album doesn’t have all songs about pot. Im not a pot smoker but I don’t mind others doing it. Yes promoting illegal activities is wrong but last I checked we’re american and we have the freedom of speech. So why don’t you fight against country songs that include driving drunk. Something that actually kills people.

      • So yet you don’t bash him for his albums? Yes church has changed his sound and maybe he is marketing things but maybe he actually has a passion for weed. Are you hating on Just about every chart toping country artist for having a song about alcohol? And how do you feel about Blake Shelton? One of the true artist now that follows your path of “his own sound”. Listen to Get Some. People have the right to produce songs about whatever they want. You fighting it? Sounds a little liberal to want to o against our constitution bud.

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