Single Review: Eric Church, “Homeboy”

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February 17, 2011

Talk about a missed opportunity.

“Homeboy” is an impassioned plea for a small town boy to reject the forces that are leading him down a path of no return, one where family is rejected, values are corrupted, and incarceration is likely the end of the road.

In small town America today, that force is crystal methamphetamine.  In Eric Church’s “Homeboy”, that force is sagging pants and a “hip-hop hat.”

I don’t know if there’s ever been a stronger challenge to the myth of rural idyllicism than the proliferation of hometown, homemade drugs that are destroying the fabric of small towns across the country.

“Homeboy”  miscasts the enemy as the other, instead of confronting the enemy within.

Grade: C

Listen: Homeboy

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32 Comments

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  1. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Yet another case where Old Crow comes out on top (though it’s far from their best studio performance):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4Bp-68W-2c

  2. GrannaNo Gravatar says:

    OMG, I loved that song by Old Crow!! Not crazy about the topic, but the song was AWESOME! Thanks Dan for posting.

  3. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    This is why hip-hop rarely wins at the all-genre awards at the grammys, they are constantly stereotyped as ‘the problem’ with today’s kids, and as nothing more of a genre with no morals whatsoever.

  4. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …sitting on a cold tailgate with those pants and a cold beer in his hand… – he had to bring on that ol’ high school flame for good measure.

    the idea behind the song is good. the execution slightly less so, but still an interesting route into small town usa 2011.

  5. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    It sure would be interesting if Eric released a song about the evils of drug abuse right after having a hit with the song “Smoke a Little Smoke.”

  6. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t wrap my head around this. The song is over-produced and the musical track drowns out Eric’s very processed vocal.

    “Homeboy” embraces everything negative about todays country music and falls victim to repeating every mistake we’ve all blasted Jason Aldean for making time and again.

    The one bright spot here is you can actually hear the banjo. It proves he (and his producer) are making an attempt to keep the song somewhat country and I applaud them for that. He hasn’t completely given in to mainstream Nashville and that’s an encouraging sign.

    But after his recent string of great songs, this is a let down. It’s too loud which is a shame because we all know Eric is better than this.

    “Smoke A Little Smoke” worked because it was unique and demanded every listener’s attention. No one was doing anything like it at the time and it really stood out. I’m surprised it peaked at #16 – it should’ve gone much higher.

    It’s too bad “Homeboy” is the complete opposite – a trend follower opposed to a trend setter. Lets hope his third album doesn’t sound like this on every track. I understand his desire to have a big hit, (he’s never peaked higher than #10) but this isn’t the way to go.

    Don’t get me wrong – I really like Eric’s music. I’ve been a fan since his debut album and I’ve written about him on my blog. I’ve always thought of him as country/rock done very well. It’ll take more than “Homeboy” for me to give up on him, but this is a step in the wrong direction.

  7. plain_joNo Gravatar says:

    I like it, but it could be better……

  8. Michael A.No Gravatar says:

    Wow, I can’t even imagine a song about the ravaging effects of crystal meth getting any play on country radio, but what an opportunity. Maybe Jamey Johnson or Lori McKenna could pen something. There was a time, not so long ago, when songwriters weren’t afraid to take the occasional risk. Good luck getting that from Kara Dioguardi or any number of the teams who write based on focus group study results. On a (sort of) related note, the movie Winter’s Bone painted an exquisitely devastating, yet quiet portrait of this epidemic.

  9. John TiernanNo Gravatar says:

    He uses these devices, sagging pants and a hip-hop hat as a vague introduction to the misguided youth. Why would he introduce the evils of Meth and other drugs in a compassionate song to tell his brother to come home? This artist is the best Nashville has to offer and this is one hell of a song. Who else is capturing real life situations in modern day America? Honestly… by the way, who the hell is Kevin Coin.

    Really? A missed opportunity? Stick to Chesney reviews dude.

  10. MelodyNo Gravatar says:

    I’m quite the opposite…yes the pants on the ground thing almost makes me giggle a little cuz it makes me think of American Idol but I still love the song (5 stars) yes the music does start to go louder than Eric but I really do love it. Huge EC fan.

  11. Mike M.No Gravatar says:

    John, you need to calm down dude. I agree with you for the most part. I think talking about meth wouldn’t fit the tone of the song and I like it in general, but when you lower yourself to personal attacks it only hurts your argument. The attacks aren’t even warranted. I am a frequent reader of this blog and I am continually impressed with Kevin’s reviews. They are usually fair and and always very well written, even though I don’t agree with this particular one. Keep up the good work Kevin, and Dan, Leeann and Tara. You guys make the best country music blog around!

  12. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    The problem is, “sagging pants and a hip-hop hat” doesn’t serve as a valid introduction to misguided youth. What’s misguided about those two things? Teens having their own generational fashion choices has been around for decades.

  13. Brian TNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not dogging on anyone in here, but sometimes I don’t understand why people need to pick apart someone’s music like this. Hey, you don’t like the song, then don’t listen to it. I don’t like Rascall Flatts at all, so i don’t listen to them, but I don’t care what music they put out, it doesn’t negatively affect my life, and it’s just music. So please just listen to music you like, and don’t worry about a song by Eric Church that you don’t like.

  14. CraigNo Gravatar says:

    This was hyped up to be more than it actually is, to be quite honest.

    The whole “unknown” mystery ad on Country Aircheck for 3-4 weeks that was based off of this song really made me assume that it was going to be something BIG and GREAT.

    Neither of those 2 things happened, to be quite honest.

  15. Lord SandersNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not quiet sure how anyone can do anything put laugh at this song. Its a complete mockery of little farm kids who try to be hardasses. I love this song and I take it for what it is. I don’t read into its lyrics and I don’t dream up secret meanings. Listen to the song as a whole. The radio recording is perfectly balanced in volume and the musical compilation is the only quality of the song that representative. The song is about country mixed up in hip hop so its only brilliant to take the banjo and have it “compete” with drums and electric guitars. It’s brilliant. Love it. Cant wait for the album

  16. KyleNo Gravatar says:

    Someone must have a grudge against Eric Church because this song is GREAT.

  17. AustinNo Gravatar says:

    this song is great it has alot of meaning to it. it takes a lot to understand a small town and how it works but some small towns really have been corrupted by drugs especially crystal meth. its almost like a zombie that leads to other people and it spreads so fast..

  18. Billy HensleyNo Gravatar says:

    I love this song. i am now 21 years old and have seen to many people that i went to school with go down the wrong road and never come back. the song really hit home the other night when i was at work and one of my friends i hadnt seen in a while comein with an ear ring in his ear and a tattoe across his chest.

  19. Michael A.No Gravatar says:

    OMG, the horror!

  20. Marcus UNo Gravatar says:

    For one I agree with brian. What’s the point of picking apart his song saying it’s bad? I’m pretty sure no one here is a nationally known and respected artist… And “Lord” sanders needs a reality check because I’m a dairy farmer in iowa and farm raised kids are and always have been the hardasses working sunrise to sunset… Usually longer… And the main reason meth is made in rural america is because that’s where the ingredients are for it… It gets stolen from the co-ops and farmers… And there’s less law enforcement out there…. that’s a common since thing so don’t go blaming the people living in the small towns because they’re not the ones doing it a majority of the time… And every town has dumbasses living there so don’t stereotype that to everyone… And here’s another thought: if there wasn’t such a high demand for that crap do you think it would be such a problem? No. high demand cause s manufacturing increases, that’s just simple economics for anything really. It’s a good song to rock out to and if you don’t like it change the damn station.

  21. [...] Player.xml"});Buy Eric Church Musicon or AmazonMore on the song "Homeboy"Country Universe gives the new Church single a C grade | Roughstock gives "Homeboy" 4 starsEric Church "Homeboy" [...]

  22. Tyler H.No Gravatar says:

    Guys, we all know what Eric means by this song. He is simply telling his brother to stop acting like the black rappers we see in videos everyday. This “culture” of drug dealing, degrading women and blowing money is a total joke. What is wrong with making money the blue collar way and staying out trouble? For those who posted comments against the song, tell me this: If your son walked into your house one day with baggy pants, gold teeth and a fresh tattoo….What would you do? Freak out!!! Would be exactly what you would do. Freak out privately though, we don’t want anyone thinking you are a racist. Shhhhhh

  23. Grizzly907No Gravatar says:

    Smoking weed has the least deleterious effects and I mean its less lethal than nicotine, alcohol, and hard drugs. He’s referring to the lack of moral behavior among the hip hop greaseballs that lack honor, integrity, decency, and moral values. Its more about the filth ridden rap culture. Most rappers and most people that listen to rap are scum. I don’t care what color, race etc they are. The inner cities are wrecked because of that culture which glorifies bad behavior and ignorance. The pick on people who go to school, speak proper English, and want to act with some sort of moral compass in the inner city. Quite people like that should be sterilized if not outright exterminated, because they are dragging America down. I don’t care if they are black, white, brown or green. Scum is scum.

  24. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    I love the song, but the mix isn’t great.The vocal is a little buried in parts. I don’t see the racism that people talk about. He dosen’t say anything about African-Americans, or Hispanics. Hip-hop hat, and pants on the ground make me think of a type of person, not the color of a person.

  25. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall anyone saying anything about racism here?

  26. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    For once, I wasn’t bashing the review. lol. I said “I don’t see the racism that PEOPLE talk about.” I didn’t say I heard that here. I have, however, heard that from a lot of other places. I was just giving my 2 cents.

  27. Toran viettaNo Gravatar says:

    Come on guys, really? Those of you that hear this song, and don’t automatically make excuses like: ” but he sings smoke a little smoke” or ” he doesn’t sing about the effects of meth”, I would like to thank you. But to those of you that hide your ethnicity behind baggy clothes and flat billed hats, why are you reviewing a COUNTRY song? Exactly……. That is all

  28. SheepNo Gravatar says:

    You know, I really like this song… up until the second chorus, where the production kills everything. It’s almost enough to make me stop listening, but atleast it dies down at the bridge. As for the lyrics, something about it really hits the heart for me. I’m from a rural community, so that’s probably why.

  29. CarltonNo Gravatar says:

    This song is judgmental and negative. It has masked language that may not be directly racist but we all know what he means and who he’s pointing at. And from such fine christian/williamson county country boys that wrote this. Eric Church sights Willie, Haggard, and Kristofferson as heros. They would never write or sing such backwards ass redneck songs like this. And by the way, Elvis Presley dressed and sang like the african american musicians that influenced him and he was ridiculed and judged by good ole’ boys like Eric Church.

  30. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I think Carlton has it right. The song doesn’t explicitly use racist language, but its pretty hard for me to miss the racist connotations of the song. Its not subtle racism at all. Its right in your face even if it directly use racist words. Its embarrassing that country radio actually played this.

  31. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    I really don’t see it as racism. When I think of hip hop hat and pants on the ground, I think of a thug. There are thugs in all colors. I’m not saying ALL people that dress like that are thugs, but I think thats the point he is trying to make. I don’t really see the world in black and white, I just see dif types of people.

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