How do I love thee, Eric Church? Let me count the ways. First of all, in a sea of country nothingness, Church is a Real Artist. Furthermore, he is a true Country Music artist. Second of all, as a songwriter, he stands head and shoulders above most of his peers. He is now also that current rarity, a Platinum Nashville record maker.
And maybe most important of all, he got to this Platinum place the old-fashioned way. I love it best that he did it with an incendiary live show that he took to the People, winning fans one by one over a period of six years.
“Eleven singles and three albums later, we’re finally here,” said Capitol/EMI’s Cindy Mabe at the Marathon Music Works party to celebrate on Tuesday (7/30). Not only is the Church CD Chief Platinum, so is its No. 1 single “Springsteen.”
The album’s “Homeboy” and “Drink in My Hand” are Gold. The superb “Creepin’” has just been released as the collection’s fourth single. The label’s Steve Hodges gave out its pointy “Impaler” awards to honor the two-week reign of “Springsteen” at the top of the charts.
Other label gifts presented by Cindy, Steve and Tom Becci included customized “Platinum” sunglasses for the star, custom cigars to “Smoke a Little Smoke,” a brass cigar cutter, commemorative plaques (natch) and a customized, Platinum-labeled bottle of Jack Daniel’s. When all the goodies were gone from the round “table” that held them, the cloth was removed, revealing the ultimate gift, a whole barrel of Jack.
The bash was hosted by BMI. Presenters included not only the label folks and BMI, but music publishers Sony/ATV, BMG Chyrsalis and ole.
“Eric and his guys went out every night and took it to the People,” said ole’s Arthur Buenahora. “You put it on your shoulders and took it out there. You’re a Real Artist, and you sing Real Songs.” He and ole’s Gilles Godard gave out gift iPads to “Springsteen” writers Church, Ryan Tyndell and Jeff Hyde. “This one is special to me,” Arthur stated. “Ryan is a special guy with a special gift.”
BMG’s Sara Johnson talked about the diversity of Jeff’s songwriting. “It’s your first No. 1, and it’s with your band mates and your friends, so that has to feel fantastic,” she added.
Sony/ATV’s Troy Tomlinson said of Eric, “He made the impossible, possible, and he did it against all odds.”
“The career of Eric Church continues on its upward trajectory,” added BMI’s Jody Williams. “Since our celebration of his last No. 1, a lot has occurred.” Yes, indeedy. Eric’s tour has sold half a million tickets. He’s the subject of TV specials on both GAC and CMT.
“His career has a depth like no other artist in this format,” added Jody. “It’s been a blast watching your career unfold.”
He announced that Avenue Bank is making a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the songwriters’ charity of choice.
Both Jody and Arthur had personal, as well as professional ties to this celebration. The former signed Jeff to his Jody Williams Music in his pre-BMI days and recommended Jeff as a multi-instrumentalist for Eric’s band. Jody gave Jeff a humorous “Stay Humble Award,” a plaque picturing white bread, bologna and water.
Arthur signed Ryan to Sony, took Ryan with him when he went to ole and introduced Eric to his supremely gifted producer, Jay Joyce. Arthur and Ryan are co-producing the brilliant new Warner signee Charlie Worsham.
“You guys are the top, the cream of the crop,” said Ryan. “This No. 1 is going to buy a lot of diapers.” He and his wife are expecting their first baby, a boy, on Nov. 23.
“Jody believed in me when nobody else did,” said Jeff. “I feel really privileged and blessed to be part of this….I might drink half of that barrel.”
“There are moments in your life when you want to pause, and this is one of them,” said Eric. “The passion I’ve seen from everybody [on Music Row] is what we always look for. I have the best team around me. That’s because it was about the Music. And that’s why I came to this town.” Manager John Peets beamed at stage left.
Ron Cox, Shawn Camp, Jonathan Yudkin, Erika Wollam & Roger Nichols, Pete Fisher, Cindy Watts, Clay Bradley, Donna Hughes, Steve & Ree Guyer Buchanan, Kevin Herring and Hunter Kelly applauded with enthusiasm and quaffed adult beverages. So did the ubiquitous Charlie Monk, plus Rachel Dobson, Hank Adam Locklin, Betsy Morley, Ed Morris, Angela Lange, Bob Paxman, Chuck Swaney, David Preston, Sarah Skates, Andrew Kintz, Earle Simmons and Leslie Roberts.
Like Gilles Godard said, “It takes a village to make a No. 1 hit.” In this case, a Marathon Village.