Eric Church Says His Hit Song “Talladega” Was Originally Written About Daytona – But He Couldn’t Get The Word “Daytona” To Fit Right

Eric Church country music

It’s become an anthem for NASCAR fans – especially twice a year when the sport rolls into Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Eric Church released “Talladega” back in 2014 with his album The Outsiders, and since then it’s become a staple of his live shows, with fans breaking out flags of their favorite driver (usually Dale Earnhardt).

But according to Eric, the song isn’t even really about NASCAR – and it was originally supposed to be about another track, but the words just didn’t line up right.

Eric discussed his fourth #1 hit during an appearance on Lindsay Czarniak’s podcast, Lunch with Lindsay, alongside NASCAR champion Chase Elliott.

According to Eric, he was playing a festival in Daytona, Florida at the same time as NASCAR was in Daytona for their July 4 weekend race:

“Ironically, when I wrote that song, I was on the bus at a festival on July 4th in Daytona. The Daytona July 4th race was happening, and we were watching it.

I was with a songwriter of mine. And we were watching the race, and they showed the infield and you had all the people in their campers, they had the flags…I was like man, that’s just such a cool – it was just like a music festival. It was like Woodstock.

And we started talking about it, and I was like, well we could just write this.”

But despite the fact that the song was inspired by a race at Daytona, Eric said they just couldn’t get “Daytona” to fit into the song:

“We couldn’t get Daytona to line up right. For whatever reason Talladega lined up better. So we wrote it to that.

We kinda picked a path using those pictures and wrote the song.”

Although it’s become an anthem of sorts for NASCAR fans, and is even used on the TV broadcasts every year during the Talladega race, Eric says the song isn’t even really about a NASCAR race at all – and it could be about any experience that you have with your friends:

“It wasn’t about the race. It was about the experience of the people experiencing the race.

You mentioned earlier about, you thought you were missing out on life if you weren’t. That’s it. That’s the whole thing.

It’s not about, is it racing, or could it have been football, could it have been soccer. It doesn’t matter. It’s about being with the people and experiencing that and letting that be a memory marker for their life. And that’s really what it was.”

That’s what I love about Eric’s music: A song that’s seemingly just a story about some friends piling into a camper and heading to a NASCAR race, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about making memories, and connecting those memories to a time in your life.

And despite the fact that it’s not really about a race, I have a feeling there will be more than a few people blasting this one on Talladega Boulevard this weekend.

Listen to Eric’s entire interview with Lindsay Czarniak here:

And of course, Eric’s hit song:

Eric Church Says Rascal Flatts “Hated” That He Followed Them

Eric Church has always been one to do things his own way.

After his first two singles at country radio, “How ‘Bout You” and “Two Pink Lines,” failed to generate any real buzz, and the subsequent ones did worse, Church released his sophomore album Carolina.

After his first two singles from that record, “Love Your Love The Most” and “Hell On The Heart” barely scratched the top 10,  he decided to buck his label and release “Smoke a Little Smoke” as his next single – after a label exec told him, “It’s your funeral.”

Well that one worked out pretty well for him.

Back in 2015, Church dropped a surprise album, Mr. Misunderstood, after sending it straight to his fans before announcing it to anyone in the media.

And the past few tours he’s been on, Church has gone out solo – not bringing along any openers – to give fans a 3+ hour show of all the songs they came to hear.

It’s safe to say that Chief really has forged his own path in country music.

And that goes back all the way to the early days, when he was briefly opening for Rascal Flatts on their Me and My Gang Tour in 2006.

Now right off the bat, I can’t think of any two acts that are less of a fit for the same tour. Church with his rock edge singing about drinking and smoking weed opening for the slicked back, bedazzled jean, mom-country pop sounds of Rascal Flatts.

That was a marriage that was destined to fail from the start. And that’s exactly what happened.

I’m sure you’re already familiar with the story, but according to Rascal Flatts, they asked Church several times to keep his set to the allotted time for the opener, and even let him go on earlier so he had more time to play. But Chief still wouldn’t follow the rules:

“We asked him four times to stay to the allotted amount of time that he had to play. We sat him down in our dressing room and were like, ‘Look, we’ll put you on early so you can play longer. But please, just be off the stage because we still have to do our show.’

And for every minute that you go over time, especially in New York City, you’re charged thousands of dollars by the minute in labor fees. So the last time was Madison Square Garden. We said, ‘It’s really important that you get off on time.’”

Well after once again breaking the rules at that Madison Square Garden show, Church was removed from the tour and replaced by an up-and-coming artist named Taylor Swift.

But Church already had a whole tour schedule planned – so he decided he was still going to visit all the cities on the Me and My Gang Tour, and started his own tour that would follow Rascal Flatts around for the rest of theirs.

Church recounts the story in an interview with Lindsay Czarniak on the Lunch with Lindsay podcast:

“I didn’t have anything else to do, so in the rest of the cities that Rascal Flatts went to – their tour was called the ‘Me and My Gang Tour,’ so we launched the ‘Me and Myself Tour.’ 

So I went to all the rock clubs in the city that Rascal Flatts was. So Rascal Flatts was playing the arena, right? I was playing the little rock club down the street, and I would start my show when their show ended.

And I did it every city the rest of the tour.”

Czarniak got a big kick out of Church following Levox and the crew around from city to city – as Church put it:

“I was stalking them.”

When asked whether Flatts knew that Church was stalking them around on their tour, Church laughed:

“Oh yeah, they hated it. Yeah they knew what we were doing.”

Church also admitted that he did it as a little bit of an “f you” to Rascal Flatts for removing him from the tour – well, actually not a little bit, as he admits that it was actually “a lot.”

But according to Church, by the last stop on the Me and Myself Tour, he had managed to build up a following from taking a stand:

“So we get to the last one and it was like, we had a pretty big following. Like it became a thing. And it gave us identity.

We stood for something, we made a decision. We’ve tried to do that our entire career, I mean I’ve done that a number of times where I don’t care if you agree with me, I’m gonna tell you what I think. I don’t care how it affects my career. That’s just who I am.

And I think that the real fanbases, they understand that and I think it makes them more passionate.”

Spot on. Obviously the decisions he’s made have worked out pretty well for Church, who’s gone from stalking Rascal Flatts on a tour that he was no longer a part of to selling out stadiums, and this summer going on an amphitheater tour with tons of artists from outside of mainstream country.

And it’s just hilarious to think of Gary LeVox, sitting in his dressing room getting his spiked hair fixed for a show, and seething about this guy named Eric Church following them around on tour after they kicked him off.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock