With “Record Year,” EMI Nashville artist Eric Church and co-writer Jeff Hyde dropped the needle on another No. 1 hit. The industry gathered at BMI on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 11) to wax poetic about the achievement.
BMI’s Jody Williams, whose publishing company signed Hyde to his first deal, presided over the afternoon. When Williams stated that there’s only one Jeff Hyde, Church quipped, “Thank God.” As for that original publishing deal, Williams joked, “Jeff went on to achieve absolutely nothing.”
Since then, the tables have turned. Hyde is the utility player in Church’s touring band. The two men are also co-writers on “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Springsteen,” and “Kill a Word.” In addition, “Record Year” received CMA nominations in the single, song and video categories. Church is also nominated for male vocalist and album (Mr. Misunderstood).
At the party, Little Louder Music’s Arturo Buenahora Jr. spoke on behalf of Hyde, while Sony/ATV’s Troy Tomlinson represented Church. Producer Jay Joyce was not in attendance. John Peets of Q Prime Management, Brandi Simms of CMA and John Shomby of Country Radio Broadcasters also addressed the industry audience.
Ron Cox of Pinnacle Bank shared news of a donation to Chief Cares, a nonprofit administered by Church and his wife Katherine. After that, UMG Nashville’s Mike Dungan delivered the label’s so-called “Impaler Award,” an small obelisk given to artists on the roster who reach No. 1.
Hyde recalled a time he worked at a gas station and a customer asked him what he wanted to do for a living. When Hyde said he wanted to be a songwriter, the customer remarked, “Don’t be an smart-a.”
After laughter, Hyde continued, “To make a living writing songs, when I was back in the small town of Marshall, Texas, seemed like a distant dream. I feel really blessed to be able to do this for a living and to be a small part of the songwriting community here.”
Hyde said he brought the idea of “Record Year” to Church, who told him to save it so they could finish it together. “He took it a different level,” Hyde noted. “Eric and Katherine, thank you for believing me and giving me a chance.”
Church started his remarks by complimenting Hyde. “I’m going to thank him first because he doesn’t get that a whole lot, ever, in life.” With ripples of laughter in the crowd, he continued, “I’ve written a lot of songs with a lot of people, and very rarely do you come up against an idea that’s unique, and you think, ‘There’s no way this is unique.’ I remember when Jeff pitched me the idea of ‘Record Year,’ I thought, ‘This had to have been done in this way.’ I was shocked to find out it hadn’t been done.”
He continued, “I always know when I sit down with Jeff, I’m going to get something unique. Sometimes he’s batshit crazy but that’s what makes him good. He’s one of those rare guys in town. He’s always on that edge. So, Jeff, thank you for the idea. You’re the one who came up with it. I enjoyed it and I’m terrified of our next co-write.”
Church referred to his radio promotion team at EMI Nashville as the best in town. “I never make the job easy. I know that,” he said, eliciting more laughter. “It wasn’t that funny,” he quickly added.
After a beat, he said, “But here’s what’s important. I promise I’ll never embarrass you. I promise I think about this as I write—where we’re going, where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. I appreciate you guys very much and I appreciate the work you do, and I can’t wait to make it really, really difficult as we go from here.”
Following thank-yous to Williams, Buenahora and Peets, he praised his wife — “who basically runs this whole thing, no kidding, and does a great job of it. Household, career. Thank you for being a confidante. I love you very much.”
Church also emphasized his gratitude to his band and crew, describing them as friends and family as well as “my soldiers on the road.”
He concluded, “I can tell you that we’ve been off a little bit, but in 2017, we’re going to have the biggest tour out there. And here’s what’s important: It’s got to be the best tour out there. And I believe it will be. So I thank you guys very much, and I appreciate this, and I hope to see you soon.”
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