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Eric Church Addresses Tom Petty’s Criticism of Country Music

Eric Church
Christopher Polk, Getty Images

When Tom Petty blasted country music onstage and in an interview recently, artists and fans alike took offense to what the rocker had to say, including Jake Owen, who called the comments “ridiculous.” It comes as no surprise that outspoken country rocker Eric Church was a bit put off by Petty’s remarks, as well. 

However, after the singer’s own controversial comments about reality singing competitions last year, he seems to be treading lightly in the area of his opinions, especially since his outspoken tendency got him in trouble with his friend Miranda Lambert. Church told Country 925 that he was aware of Petty’s words, but that he doesn’t have too much of an opinion about it. “I don’t really have an opinion on that. I’m not sure how informed someone like that would be; I don’t know how much Tom Petty listens to country music,” the singer says.

He did have one bone to pick with the ‘I Won’t Back Down’ icon. “The only problem I had was I’ve never been a big fan of categorizing an entire genre of music based on whatever songs you hear,” Church explains, adding peacefully, “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion.”

Although the ‘Chief’ singer was more subdued than normal, he gave some pretty level-headed answers — especially when asked if he thought Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash were rolling in their graves over the current state of country.

“I think at any point of time, any music, there’s always stuff that’s good; there’s always stuff that’s bad,” Church says. “I think you can go back to Cash and Waylon’s time and even after that — there was stuff that wasn’t great. So, I think a lot of of it is — does it have a chance to succeed? Does cool stuff have a chance to get out there?”

In Cash and Jennings’ era, country music “was a little hipper; it was a little cooler,” Church continues, but the ACM Album of the Year winner is optimistic about the state of country music — even if Petty doesn’t agree. “I think it’s a cooler format than it’s been in a long time,” he says. “It’s taken over a lot of where rock and roll left off…so for me, I’m excited about where we go from here.”

It sounds like Church doesn’t believe country music is free fallin’ anytime soon — and we don’t, either. Leave it to him to set the record straight. He’s certainly a country music ‘homeboy’ through and through.

Next: The Biggest Feuds in Country History

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