Eric Paslay entertains attendees of the CMA Music Festival in a solo set of insightful stories, familiar hits, and one new song at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He also answers questions from fans about songwriting.
In this performance, the Abilene, Texas, native begins with his 2014 single “Song About a Girl.” He then tells the audience that he wrote “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” on his first guitar and that one of its lyrics specifically alludes to a U2 concert. That feel-good single became a #1 hit for Jake Owen in 2011, marking Paslay’s first #1 as a songwriter. Asked about the life of a songwriter, he remarks, “It’s a muscle, and if God’s gifted you enough with this muscle of saying ‘I love you’ eight different ways, it’s fun. We showed up—and there’s hit songs written every day that you’ll never hear also.”
Paslay then performs “Deep as It Is Wide,” recorded by Amy Grant with Sheryl Crow and Paslay, and a new song titled “Nice Guy.” He continues with “She Don’t Love You,” a single he released in 2014 that earned an ACM Song of the Year nomination. He also reminisces about trying to book shows in Austin, Texas, when he was eighteen years old—an experience he parlayed into the lyrics of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which he co-wrote with Will Hoge. Eli Young Band scored a #1 hit with the song in 2012. Paslay adds a few lines of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” at the end of his rendition.
The set continues with fan questions as Paslay confesses he’s a “mumble writer,” seeking out words and syllables as melodies are taking shape. He cites Rodney Crowell, Kris Kristofferson, and Dolly Parton as songwriting influences, but as he tells the crowd, “If I believe the song and songwriters, I don’t care if they’re famous or not. I just turn it up, and I think that’s something cool about music.” He ends the set by singing his 2013 breakout solo hit, “Friday Night.”
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