Life-Changing Recordings: Eric Church

Current 55th GRAMMY nominee reveals the song that kept him from giving up on music
  • Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images
    Eric Church
February 07, 2013 -- 3:35 pm PST
By As told to Paul Zollo /

(Every artist has a soundtrack that reveals their musical journey. But what is the one recording that proved to be a transformative moment? In this ongoing series, GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists will reveal their answer to the deceptively difficult question: What recording changed your life?)

Kris Kristofferson
"To Beat The Devil"
Kristofferson (1970)

"'To Beat The Devil' by Kris Kristofferson. I wouldn't be doing this if that song had not kept me from giving up on music.

"I had been kicking around town for a while with no luck landing a gig as a songwriter when I walked into a meeting that held a lot of promise. I had played for everyone at this company a few times, and I knew they were interested in what I was doing. This meeting was with the head of the company's department.

"I played two songs. He stopped me halfway through the second one, which was 'Lightning.'"

"He said, 'I don't know where you are from, or what your story is, but I'd go back there. You'll never make it here.'

"I packed my guitar case up and went to the truck. I listened to 'To Beat The Devil,' and decided that's exactly what I was gonna do. Beat the devil. I stayed in town and got a deal two weeks later."

(Eric Church is currently nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for "Springsteen.")

(Paul Zollo is the senior editor of American Songwriter and the author of several books, including Songwriters On Songwriting, Conversations With Tom Petty and Hollywood Remembered. He's also a songwriter and Trough Records artist whose songs have been recorded by many artists, including Art Garfunkel, Severin Browne and Darryl Purpose.)

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