“The Outsiders,” the title track and lead single from Eric Church’s new album, may have strayed too much into the realm of metal for its own good, but it served as a strong mission statement. Like him or not, Church is one of the few male country singers today who are willing to stray from the country-party-dude template, and even his songs that don’t quite hit the mark are more interesting than most singles currently on the radio.
His new song, “Give Me Back My Hometown,” is much more melodic than the first single, though it too stretches the boundaries of country in its own way. “Hometown” starts off simple enough, but it builds up steadily in both volume and drama in a way that’s reminiscent, if anything, of U2’s “With or WithoutYou.”
The song, written by Church and Luke Laird, is well-written and nuanced, as Church laments that the memories of a small town that have been tainted by the absence of a loved one. It also gives Church a chance to stretch his vocals to the top end of his range, and while that may not necessarily be one of his strong suits, it’s encouraging to hear someone acknowledge that small-town living isn’t for everyone.
With songs like “The Outsiders,” “Drink in My Hand” and that unfortunate collaboration with Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean that will not be named here, Church has carved out a reputation as a hell-raising outlaw. While he sings those anthems well enough, he really separates himself from the competition by his willingness to dive into mature, serious topics as well. It’s a nice change of pace to hear something other than a perpetually partying, small-town man-child every now and again.
Written by Eric Chuch and Luke Laird
It’s a small thing, but my favorite part of this song is the way the percussion track is reminiscent of a high school marching band. It fits the nostalgia vibe perfectly.
I love this song. The record has grown on me as I keep listening to it. I still think my all-time favorite cd of his is his first but he’s my #1 male country artist these days.
PS. Shouldn’t that say “Drink in my hand” instead of beer…
For whatever reason, this song just hasn’t worked for me. I purposely didn’t comment on it until I’d heard it a few times and gave it time to grow on me, but still I get little from it.
I didn’t much care for how Church’s voice sounded on the track. It also came off as just another country song about a guy and his high school flame who (surprise, surprise) didn’t work out.
References to high school football and a spot where they used to “drink a few” just make it blend in with a lot of what’s already been on the radio recently.
I also get the feeling he was trying to replicate the success of “Springsteen” by telling a very similar story, just changing the time of year.
Also, did anybody else notice that “Springsteen” is almost the exact same story of “Tim McGraw” by Taylor Swift? I’ve always thought that but nobody else seems to have picked up on it.
A song named after a famous singer, about a high school summer romance that didn’t last, where the songs of the aforementioned artist remind the narrator of their lost love.
Also, they both make references to stars in the sky and the radio. And a form of blue jeans.
I hadn’t noticed that, but now that you bring it up, I think the comparison is interesting.
I always thought “Springsteen” was a good song not because it’s a good song (on paper it’s rather bland), but because it’s a sonic treat. Like most of Eric Church’s songs, “Springsteen” sounds cool, showing just how important Jay Joyce is for him.
“Tim McGraw” is all about lyrics and construction. It’s a great demonstration of Taylor Swift’s ability to paint a solid picture with lyrics and frame it with an inviting melody. Now that she’s become a pop princess, “Tim McGraw” is also noticeable for how country it sounds, but when it came out that wasn’t the main focus.
They are similar songs in terms of subject matter. But in terms of what they focus on musically and structurally, they’re so different that I never saw the connection.
To me, the difference between “Springsteen” and “Give Me Back My Hometown” boils down to the narrator’s perspective on his old flame. In “Springsteen”, he is clearly pining for her in a loving way while in “GMBMH”, the narrator is cursing his old flame and is willing to trade every heirloom, he owns to love his hometown again.
They follow a similar path at the beginning but separate at the fork of the road. For the record, I prefer “Springsteen” on a sound level and “GMBMH” on the lyrical level. “Springsteen”
was my 9th favorite out of 11 tracks on his “Chief” album, while “GMBMH” rates as 4th out of his tracks on “The Outsiders”.
I think I prefer “GMBMH” because the theme of growing older and a dying hometown resonates with me more than pining for a lost love. I never had a girlfriend in high school, so any relating to “Springsteen” separation story remains out of reach. I guess, I see “GMBMH” as also singing about a small town dying under the oppression of a corporation and modern life.
Hello from America! This was a fantastic post and that I loved reading it