I’ve always wondered what the real story was behind it, though.
Did he write it based on personal experience? The experience of a friend back in high school? I kind of always went with the theory that he just totally made it up during some writing session in Nashville when he had a creative streak.
In the lyrics, he references a place called Johnson’s store, which I’ve never heard of before, and I grew up not too far from Eric’s hometown of Granite Falls, North Carolina myself. But, I’ve always been on a personal mission to figure out exactly what store he’s talking about in the song if it was, in fact, a true story.
I haven’t quite nailed that little detail down, but as it turns out, the song is a totally true story and actually happened to Eric when he was a teenager.
At the CMA Songwriter Series over a decade ago in New York City, he gave a little bit of background on the inspiration for the song:
“I have this song about pregnancy. It’s a personal song for me, because two pink lines happened to me when I was unmarried and a teenager.”
And honestly, that makes sense, because the details and authenticity of the song are what make it so damn good.
But, the thought of airing such a terrifying situation out to your parents sounds pretty horrible to me. Eric was bracing himself for the worst when he first played it for his mom, Rita:
“When I first played this for my mom, I was expecting her to be really bothered by it.
She goes, ‘I love that song.'”
But it’s not because she was impressed by the details in the story and what her son had, um, overcome back in the day. She thought he was saying “lions” instead of “lines,” asking Eric what the hell that meant but being a supportive mom nonetheless:
“‘Why are you singing about two pink lions?’
I said, ‘Mom, I happen to love lions; I’m a big cat fan.'”
And at that point, you take that and absolutely run with it. I guess that southern accent could cause one to make that mistake pretty easily, right?
Or, maybe she just pretended like she didn’t know what he was talking about for the sake of avoiding that awkward explanation from him. If that’s the case, I totally understand it.
Eric says that it was years before she even figured out what he was really talking about:
“It took her a long time to figure it out.”
Eric co-wrote the song with Victoria Shaw, and it was the second single from his 2006 debut album Sinners Like Me. It only peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart though, one of his worst-performing singles ever, but it’s become a fan favorite over the years.
With the instantly recognizable opening lines, unique production and relatable storyline, it will always be an Eric Church classic to me: