Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.

Have you ever listened to a song and related it to a memory? No matter where you are or what time it is, that song comes on and takes you back to a different place. You remember a lost love, a summer you would never forget, or a person. "Funny how a melody sounds like a memory." I think this is something everyone can relate to. Eric Church's newest hit 'Springsteen' has sparked this feeling for millions. I had avoided listening to any Eric Church, who happens to be my favorite country singer, after getting out of a 4 year relationship.
 A week ago I listened to 'Springsteen' and that was that, memories came flooding in. If a song can do this, it's obviously pretty powerful. I chose to critique this song because I can relate to it on an emotional level. Kenneth Eric Church is a country singer/song writer/guitarist. Eric grew up in Granite Falls NC and began singing as a child, at age 13 he was already writing songs and taught himself how to play the guitar. While attending  Appalachian State College, Eric formed a band called The Mountain Boys, which consisted of his brother, college roommate, and a guitarist.
 Upon graduating, Eric received a degree in marketing. He became engaged but later broke off the engagement, moved to Nashville, and pursued his dreams of becoming a country artist. In 2007 Church was signed with Capitol Nashville records and released his first album Sinners Like Me. Eric's first single 'How Bout You' reached number 14 on the charts, as well as 'Guys Like Me' and 'Two Pink Lines'. Eric's second album, Carolina, was released on March 24, 2009. The most recent album by Eric Church titled Chief, was released July 26, 2011 and contains 'Springsteen'.
 Since 'Springsteen' was released it has been in the top 10 country hits. Eric's songs connect to people. After watching him in concert this summer I loved him even more; everything he does on stage is for his fans. YouTube videos can be found of Eric sitting on the tailgate of his truck, performing songs on an acoustic guitar for a group of fans at a park. He loves his fans, and they love him just as much. Church's classic laid back look is one of his signatures. An old worn out hat, aviators, T-shirt and jeans are his regular attire.

'Springsteen' begins with an acoustic guitar and piano as well as a catchy beat, the first lines saying "To this day when I hear that song, I see you standing there on that lawn." Everyone has a song that reminds them of someone, no matter who they are or were, and what they meant to you. Each verse of the song builds up to the catchy melody "When I think about you I think about 17, I think about my old jeep, think about the stars in the sky, funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night, Springsteen." Eric's unique voice, use of the acoustic guitar, and memorable lyrics make 'Springsteen' one of the new hits of summer music. I have listened to all of Eric's albums, from Sinners Like Me,to Carolina, and Chief. 
I can honestly say that I don't have a favorite album  because I grew to like songs on each of them. Sinners Like Me showed a good up and coming artist, songs that told stories of childhood memories and young mistakes were a big theme on this album. Carolina was filled with heart felt songs such as 'Love your Love the most', 'Hell on the Heart' and 'You Make it Look so Easy'. The same good ol' country boy songs were still present, including one of my favorites 'Smoke a little smoke'. Chief is more diverse than the first two albums, an electric guitar is used more a long with the acoustic guitar.
 If there was an album perfect for redneck drinking songs, Chief would be at the top of the list. Eric mixed country as well as rock to create a more mature, defined album. In every album Eric is sure to remind audiences of his North Carolina roots. There's no doubt that Eric is a country singer, he hasn't swayed from his country roots which can't always be said for newer country singers. Take for instance Taylor Swift, who is not only heard on country radio, but hip hop as well. Eric has a Merle Haggard influence in his voice, he isn't as twangy as George Strait but he's also not as "new" sounding as artists such as Rascal Flatts.

For centuries music has been a way for individuals to express themselves. We listen to music during celebrations,loss, and joyful experiences; music is everywhere. Music can connect millions of strangers through one song. It is a powerful element to our culture, it's roots run deep in every country and can be the best form of comfort. With every generation and every century, you can track different styles of music.
 The newer generations are accustomed to a wider range of artists and choices. I always find it amusing to listen to my 59 year old mom sing along to Bruce Springsteen or Mark Knopfler; she still finds joy in listening to old tunes from "back in the day".  I feel like each genre of music has it's own type of stereotypes. I have been told time and time again that all country music is about some guy singing about his pickup truck, dog, beer, and lost love. Rap music may be associated with drugs, sex, and partying.
Eric's music targets a variety of listeners. I have showed his music to people who don't normally listen to country who found it catchy and easy to listen to. He is not mainstream country, a guy who puts on a cowboy hat and sings about drinking beer, his dog, his truck, and a hot country girl who dances on the hood of his truck. Eric targets everyday people who believe in remembering where you come from, where you've been, and the struggles and triumphs of life. He sings about his experiences and isn't afraid to show his weak side. Eric is a normal man, he doesn't sing about how much money he makes or unrealistic situations. If you like to kick back with a beer after a long week at work, he knows how to get the party started. His music doesn't fit into the typical stereotype of country because he has made each song his own. Not every CD was made just to create a hit, he put his heart and soul into each album and in turn they have created songs that people can relate to.
 No matter what genre you listen to, there will always be a stereotype. Different genre's do target different audiences. a city person who has never been on a farm, lived in the country, or been raised in a small town, will probably be less inclined to listen to country than a person who has grown up in that environment. 
Eric Church targets people who may be considered "blue collar". After working a 9-5 job all week you just want to kick back with a beer and listen to Eric Church. Family, friends, Jesus, and having a good time are persistent in Eric's songs. 
Out of all of Eric Church's songs, Springsteen is my favorite. There's just something about the lyrics that take me back to a time that had an important impact on my life. While people change, memories don't, and Springsteen is a bittersweet reminder to anyone who has experienced young love. With almost 3 million views of an unofficial "Springsteen" music video, it appears I am not the only one who feels like this about the song. I admit to pushing repeat time and time again.
 After reading comments on YouTube I realized this song can reach beyond country listeners. People admitted to never liking country, but loving this song. I love most of  Eric's music, and have my select favorites. This song speaks to me, while it brings a sort of sadness, it also brings small glimpses of good memories. It is a memorable song that has listeners pressing repeat. I think it will become one of the top 10 songs on the country music countdown. Songs that people can relate to are songs that will never go out of style, no matter how old they are. gave Springsteen 5 out of 5 stars. Writer Billy Duke notes:
 " 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."  - Billy Duke,
After looking at many other reviews, many gave "Springsteen" a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Editor of Country Universe made a point that "Springsteen" may have been trying a little too hard to sound like "The Boss", he couldn't deny that the song was catchy, but believed it had been done before. "Springsteen" was still given an A- grade for a review by Country Universe.
“Springsteen” is every bit as semi-melancholy as it is a fond glimpse back at the past, with a gravity of shimmering sadness driving its production that is most closely tied to the Boss’s 1987 tortured-heart testimonial “Tunnel of Love”. - Noah Eaton, Country Universe
 There's no denying that this song will make it big this summer. Prior to doing this project I had downloaded some of the songs from Chief on my phone, but have now decided that I need the whole CD to go with my other two Eric Church CD's. Until then, YouTube and the Eric Church channel on Pandora will fulfill my needs. I know my mom wouldn't mind jamming out with me on our way back to central Oregon to "Springsteen". While not all my friends like the sound of country, they seem to be able to put up with a select few songs, including "Springsteen".
I look forward to hearing more albums from Eric Church, he provides fans with honesty and pure passion which is something that draws me to songs. It will be interesting to see what track they decide to release on the radio now that "Springsteen" has made it so big. While as an audience we do not know what Bruce Springsteen song Eric is referring to, he is conveying the message of a song that takes you back to a memory. It is apparent that Eric listened to Bruce Springsteen while he was younger, and can relate memories to a certain song. We all have an artist that we rocked out to when we were younger. We all have a "Springsteen" song that we can relate back to one moment or one person. For Eric Church, Bruce Springsteen must have been an artist he listened to when he was younger. I feel like after reviewing a song such as "Springsteen" I can relate to Eric, and have a deeper sense of who he is as an artist.

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