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Eric Church, ‘Talladega’ [Listen]

Eric Church, Talladega
EMI Records Nashville

Eric Church‘s ‘Talladega’ may talk about that famous racetrack known for fast cars and heavy drinking, but that’s not what the song is truly about. A track that shows off his sentimental side as much as his master guitar skills, Church’s ‘Talladega’ is a poignant hit that fans will connect with on more than one level.

These days, most nostalgic, mid-tempo hits on country radio talk about lost love and the yearning for it to return. But in ‘Talladega,’ Church turns the theme on its head. It’s not the girl he’s missing, it’s his best friends and the grand adventures of their youth when all the world was laid out before them and all they had to do was get to Talladega for those NASCAR races and nights of whiskey drinking and firework shooting.

“It was the summer before the real world started / And the deal was we would get to go / If we cleaned it up and got it runnin’ / Daddy’s old Winnebago / Wing and prayer down 65 / Five best friends on four bald tires.”

‘Talladega’ is the fourth single off Church’s fourth studio album, ‘The Outsiders.’ A simple, yet strong musical arrangement definitely allows the star to showcase his guitar-playing prowess like always. But what really makes the song shine are the lyrics, written by Church and Luke Laird, which paint a beautiful image of youthful friendship before the pressures of the “real world” set in. Time is always moving forward — Church knows this. But that won’t stop him from reminiscing.

“Like a stone, time rolls on / You can’t hit pause / That’s just the deal / Most days in life don’t stand out  / But life’s about those days that will.” Church sings, remembering memories that will last forever. “When the winds grow cold and it blows October / I think about us shoulder to shoulder / Like those cars, my thoughts roll over and over and over / In my mind tonight.”

At the end of the day, the true power of ‘Talladega’ comes in Church’s poignant vulnerability, only slightly masked by his bad boy persona. He may come off tough and rugged, but deep down, everyone knows he’s got a great big heart. He’s the bad boy who sometimes lets his sentimental side show — if nothing else, it makes him well-rounded, able to appease any listener’s ear.

Why Fans Will Love It: While the first three singles from ‘The Outsiders’ were definitive rock songs built for windows rolled down and anthemic singalongs, ‘Talladega’ shows off a softer, more thoughtful side of Church. It’s still a song for driving down the highway — it’s just a bit more for soul searching than radio blasting.

Key Lyrics: “Talladega, boys raise the / Whiskey in your glass / Here’s to turn it up, slowin’ down / And cars that go real fast / We were laughin’ and livin’ / Drinkin’ and wishin’ / And thinkin’ as that checkered flag was wavin’ / Sure would like to stay in / Talladega.”

Did You Know?: Church may have more reasons that one to reminisce about the carefree times of his youth these days: the country crooner recently announced that he and his wife are expecting a second baby in 2015.

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