Eric Church is set to release the first piece of his triple album Heart, of Heart & Soul, this Friday and I cannot wait. In light of that, I wanted to look back at one of Eric’s best songs and how it sent him down the path of country music superstardom.
Whenever one of my favorite artists releases a new album, I find myself going back and listening to some of their early music and first albums. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I get sentimental when new stuff comes out because it reminds me of why I fell in love with a particular artist in the first place.
In 2006, Eric released his first album Sinners Like Me, and I have to say it still might be my all-time favorite. He’s said in the lead-up to Heart & Soul this new project is his best work to date, and I already know I’m going to love it, but there’s something about Sinners that hits me a little bit different than all his other work.
Of course, one of the stand-outs from that record is “Lightning.”
Though it was never released as a single, it was a solo write by Eric (the only solo-write on the album). It’s a clinic on songwriting and an absolutely stellar track altogether. I mean, it all but just about rips your heart clean out of your chest.
How many country songs do you know of that tackle the death penalty debate head on? He does exactly that and somehow humanizes the controversy to the point where you almost feel bad for the murderer. Honestly though, by the end of the song, the focus is on humanity, not politics, and I love that. (Fun fact: It was also inspired by the movie, The Green Mile).
To that end, how many songwriters or artists do you know of today who would be willing to take on a subject like that in the first place and do so by telling a story, rather than taking a hard-line stance on a hot-button issue? They’re few and far between these days and that’s part of what makes Eric so special.
It’s a super underrated song, especially considering the fact that it got him a record deal in the first place. Arturo Buenahora Jr. signed him to his first deal after hearing just one song: “Lightning”.
In an interview with Garden & Gun, he revealed it came at a time when he really needed it:
“I had been rejected all over town, and I was sitting in my truck listening to Kris Kristofferson’s The Austin Sessions. I called my brother to come downtown and get drunk with me.”
He woke up hungover the next day, but instead of his usual hangover cure, he got a call from Buenahora Jr. to come in and sing… he played “Lightning,” and the rest is history.
Check him out 13 years ago singing his breathtaking, heart-wrenching song and let the countdown begin: