“It’s Your Funeral” – Eric Church Threatened To Walk Away From His Record Deal If His Label Didn’t Release “Smoke A Little Smoke” As A Single

Eric Church
Eric Church

Eric Church has always been one to do things his way – even if that means taking some big risks.

Obviously Church took a big risk with his performance from Stagecoach Festival this weekend when he decided to perform an hour and a half acoustic medley with a gospel choir during his headlining set on Friday night.

Reactions were decidedly mixed, with many complaining that it wasn’t the place for that type of set, while Church’s fans loved every minute of it.

It was a bold decision, but it’s far from the first that Church has taken in his career.

And while some are claiming that his performance was “career suicide,” that’s something he’s heard with a lot of decisions he’s made throughout his nearly two decade career.

In fact, his own label told him the same thing about one of the singles he wanted to release back in 2010.

Church wanted to send “Smoke a Little Smoke” to radio as his third single from Carolina after having little success with the first two releases from the album, “Love Your Love the Most” and “Hell on the Heart.”

He had listened to his label up to that point, putting out radio-friendly singles that would get his music on the charts and, as his label assured him, help advance his career.

Well both of the first two singles reached the top 10 of the charts – and that’s about it.

So Church wanted to try something different. He had been playing “Smoke a Little Smoke” during his live shows and had been watching the crowd’s reaction.

In his words, “They were tearing the walls down.”

But the label wasn’t keen on releasing a stoner anthem to radio (remember, this was 2010 – the first state didn’t legalize marijuana for recreational use until 2012).

Church stuck to his guns. In fact, he did more than that: He threatened to walk from the label if “Smoke a Little Smoke” wasn’t released as his next single.

“I went to the label, I said ‘This is what we’re putting out, or I’ll never make another album. I’ll never record for you again.’”

And when they were put in that position, they didn’t have much choice. But they did have a warning for Church:

“It’s your funeral.”

Well “Smoke a Little Smoke” became his next single – and despite the fact that the song’s radio performance was unremarkable (and there were radio stations that refused to play it altogether), sales of Chief’s music spiked and he was able to prove to the label that his musical instincts were correct.

In fact, it’s because he was right about “Smoke a Little Smoke” that Church says he was able to have the freedom to do what he wanted with the next record, Chief, which is still his best-selling album to date.

Seems like reports of his career’s death were greatly exaggerated – just like they are after his Stagecoach performance.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock