'Springsteen' is the best song from one of 2011's top country albums. The over four-minute long nostalgic look back combines all the things fans have forever loved about Eric Church -- his passion, his willingness to bare his scars and his razor sharp songwriting -- with a melody and tone that take root in the heart and soul of each listener long before getting to the familiar "whoa oh ohs" near the end of the song.

The singer's ability to work titles of Bruce Springsteen songs into the lyrics without copying the rocker or creating a script reminiscent of a bad awards show will go mostly unnoticed. "Somewhere between that setting sun / I'm on fire and born to run / You looked at me and I was done / And we're just getting started," Church sings in the first verse, after painting a vivid and emotional picture in the few lines that open the song.

Church and songwriting partners Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell avoid describing a feeling. Instead, they share a story that conjures one's own memories -- and it's far more effective.

"When I think about you, I think about 17 / I think about my old Jeep / I think about the stars in the sky / Funny how a melody sounds like a memory / Like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night / Springsteen," the singer adds convincingly during the chorus.

We all have a "what if" guy or girl that we find ourselves thinking about innocently from time to time. "Back when I was gasoline / And this old tattoo had brand-new ink / And we didn't care what your mom would think / About your name on my arm." 'Springsteen' takes us there, and assures us it's OK to wander around in that memory. If industry voters aren't turned off by Church's anti-establishment persona, this song will earn the singer a mantle full of hardware by January 2013.

5 Stars

Preview Eric Church's 'Springsteen'

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