“Stick That in Your Country Song”
Written by Jeffrey Steele and Davis Naish
I must admit, upon seeing that Eric Church’s new single was titled “Stick That in Your Country Song,” my expectations were low. Was he really going to dabble in the never-ending authenticity argument within the country music genre now, of all times – especially when his track record of songs like that is shoddy, at best?
Well, no. The wonderful part of Eric Church’s artistic evolution is that he’s become a tempered artist over the years, channeling the inner music-loving nerd within him on 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood while delivering an exhaustive set of tunes on 2018’s Desperate Man. And it’s worth noting that, on the latter album, Church’s main inspiration behind the project stemmed from his frustrations and inability to make sense of the world around him. He was quite literally desperate to find the right words to say.
Well, he must have found them somewhere between then and now, because “Stick That in Your Country Song” is a venomous track aimed at the right people overall. In past reviews here, I’ve noted country music’s inability to address social issues this year, which is ironic for a genre that claims to speak to the “real world.” It seems artists would rather resurrect the worst elements of bro-country for nihilistic party songs because, screw it, why not.
Perhaps it’s doubly ironic, then, that Church – an artist who further drifts away from country music himself with every release into Americana-inspired blues-rock – is the one to take the establishment down a peg.
Granted, the song isn’t quite addressing specific social movements in its own right – especially current ones. Even the verse about an overworked teacher only vaguely alludes to gun violence and mass school shootings. But when there’s so many issues to address at any one possible point in time anyway, the haphazard lyrical execution manages to work for this track. Say something – anything is the basic message.
And it’s a message that’s further bolstered by the music surrounding it, which is where these types of protest songs often fail to deliver. A low-simmering acoustic number evolves into a hard rock anthem that features Church’s angriest vocal delivery, well, ever, creating a righteously primal feeling overall.
Again, I wish the song pushed harder with its examples for a tighter focus, but it’s a very welcome return to form for Church.
I like the production on this– barely “country” as it is, though– and Church’s invested performance. I’m not a fan of the broad overgeneralizations of two large cities, though. Country music needs to stop perpetuating this false dichotomy that privileges supposedly wholesome small towns and vilifies cities as centers of moral decay. Church (and Steele and Naish) could maybe listen to a Drive-By Truckers album to see what kinds of details to stick in a country song.
I do understand those criticizing it for its hypocrisy, but I think it’s beside the point when Church’s main critique is a lack of substance, rather than a particular sound.
Of course, your comment now makes me think I completely lost the point of the song’s meaning, in that I just interpreted this to be Church’s way of starting a conversation over sharing his personal beliefs (which ties into the whole “disconnect” critique, really). Either way, it’s a haphazard execution that somewhat works and somewhat doesn’t. So, yeah – hypocritical in that regard, then, when a song with good intent messes up in the actual execution.
As for your comment as a whole, though – yep …
Rings hollow when the song itself isn’t country.
Country music doesn’t need to stop the promotion of small towns just because you dislike it, rather an arrogant thought. It is the last genre/scene in American culture that looks at rural life with a sympathetic outlook. In every other scene, it is lampooned and mocked for not marching in Soviet lockstep with the current progressive flavor of the day. If you want to cheer for the city, go listen to pop.
His comments regarding Detroit and Baltimore are spot on. Those cities are as he described burned out and dangerous.
If country music must talk about the current issues of the day, hopefully, they don’t fall for the Marxist line.
As for the song, I like the lyrics but Church needs to return to his “Sinners Like Me” sound.
Didn’t say that country needs to stop promoting small towns. Said that it needs to stop acting like all urban areas are corrupt, vice-ridden hellscapes and all small towns are paragons of virtue. Because that doesn’t reflect reality, and, whether or not you personally like it, there are a lot of country music fans who live in cities.
Read the article. Didn’t see any graphs or citations for the stats. Unlike this source: https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/ncvrw2018/info_flyers/fact_sheets/2018NCVRW_UrbanRural_508_QC.pdf
I wouldn’t take pride in being a Marxist. That poison has killed 100 million or more people worldwide. As someone in education, it alarms me how many of my compatriots parrot that intellectual dead end.
The city has their own genres for that sentiment. Plenty, in fact.
As for country fans in the city, you are welcome to listen, but demanding our culture change for you is highly arrogant. We don’t have to change to suit your demands.
Amen, Kevin!!! I’d say more, but I feel like being polite today.
I’d like to echo what Kevin and Jonathan said … and Leeann, too. :)