Monday, October 25th, 2010

Eric Church – Smoke a Little Smoke

I sense there may just be a tiny wee bit of discussion about this one in the comments…


Josh Langhoff: I imagine Eric’s one of those annoying people (like me) who blathers on and on about how his altered state of mind brings him closer to God and reveals deep universal truths and profundities, about how Jesus’s first miracle was making wine at a party, about how the Tao is in the piss and shit and anyway the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao (land sakes, I’m doing it now), when really he’s just drunk (and high? Online lyrics say “Dig down deep / Find my stash,” whereas in this version he finds his glass and strikes his match. Another reason to vote yes on Prop.19!) . The floppy opening riff, dramatic shifts in instrumentation, coda, and abrupt final chord all create the impression that he’s making up the song as he goes along. Not until the third verse do we discover that some absent “her” is behind all this Hakuna Matata philosophizing.

Martin Skidmore: This is one of the best and most interesting country-rock numbers I’ve heard in a while – the rock guitar sound is vastly less dated than the usual, and he sings with some spirit. There’s a serious enthusiasm to the way he sings it, wanting to convey feelings and attitudes in a less cliched way than is so common in the genre. It’s almost like coming across an indie singer-songwriter who can actually sing, play and write songs.

Anthony Easton: Best country song about doing grass since Toby Keith’s one about smoking weed with Willie. Could be a lost Allman Brothers track, and I could totally imagine Lil Jon covering it in concert.

Asher Steinberg: If this were a rap song, it would rise to the level of a late-career B-Legit smoking pot album cut (definitely not even a single). Someone likable but not extremely talented or prone to recording over interesting production. As it’s a country song, it’s a bit more of a novelty, but that only takes it too far.

Jonathan Bogart: Country radio has finally caught up to 1992, if the Collective Soul “yeah”s are any indication. Elsewhere, the red-state dogwhistles and coyness about what precisely constitutes a little smoke makes for a bipartisan frat anthem with a limited shelf-life. It’s appropriately laid-back, but with a machine-tooled roar in the chorus that belies his supposed reluctance to embrace modernity. Even country radio adapts or dies.

Katie Lewis: My parents punished me often – sometimes by confiscating and then breaking CDs I bought that they didn’t approve of or didn’t like the cover art of – when I was in high school because I listened to a lot of “non-Christian” music and was an “impressionable” teenager that needed to be taught a lesson. My sister is 10 years younger than me, currently in high school, is a NASCAR and country music fanatic, and can do no wrong in my parents’ eyes. They are very supportive of her inclinations, and buy her front row tickets to Brad Paisley concerts when he’s in town, and have sing-a-longs to all her favorite Toby Keith albums in the car when they’re all driving around together. I don’t know if she knows this song or not, but I’m sure it would be approved solely due to the guy’s last name being “Church”. I envy my sister’s probably-unrealized power to get away with listening to this kind of reprehensible dribble without being threatened by our parents that she’s going to hell. And I’m glad I got the hell out of Texas.

John Seroff: This is the kind of calculated, sneering redneck battle cry I can get behind: jangling, channel-ricochet guitar closer to Kraftwerk than Skynyrd; kick pedal heartbeat; power chord multiple climaxes and twangy stoner rebel yells of mo’ mo’ mo’. All in the service of gettin’ fucked up on a Friday night over doing anything vaguely productive. Sure, it’s pandering to the sheetrock set, but it’s also damned well effective; with this on the juke, I’d be first on the floor in my shit-kickin’ boots. Dumb times, good times.

Chuck Eddy: Um, perhaps I should preface this review by confessing that I frequently wear an black Eric Church T-shirt, which has his name on the back and “I DON’T LIKE TO FIGHT, BUT I AIN’T SCARED TO BLEED” on the front. Glad they got that comma in there! So okay, that said, in these three minutes the rhythm and echo are Delta blues as electronic dance music, the swing and sway give you what the lyrics promise, the increasing crunch is raging hard rock (add all that up you get: mid ’80s ZZ Top?), the quiet-then-loud changes add power in both directions, the “want a little more right, a little less left” makes me wonder why Eric thinks that (especially since he usually tends not to wear his politics on his sleeve) and whether the stuff about his changing definition of “change” is somehow related, the “yeah!” yells are ’90s pop grunge (Collective Soul to be exact), the not-planning-for-future stuff hits close to home, the stuff about getting her back sounds like he’s deciding whether to take a bath, the rap about pulling out his stash and letting his memory crash makes me wonder if he’s a libertarian or just confused. Still, a great track from a mostly disappointing album. Even better as a standalone.

Alfred Soto: The faint melodic nod to “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” adduces its novelty, and Church’s restraint is unusual in a party number. Good hook.

Frank Kogan: Wants to turn up the quiet; 50 seconds later he turns up the guitars instead, so he doesn’t know what he wants, and probably votes to kick the shit out of the poor without knowing that’s what he’s voting for. But his groove and confusion hook me consistently.

Zach Lyon: I really hate trick intros, where the artist will begin a song with something that sounds completely unique compared to the rest of their catalog, or the catalog of their genre, before jumping right back into the boring. Church teases for a whole damn minute with this awesome minimal stomp before he does that awful country yelp and the song is blasted with “Kashmir”-level bombast for some reason. I don’t understand it. I like his whole outlaw-revival shtick and the chorus is hooky enough without all the orchestrations, and he’s got charisma to spare; I just don’t see why he’s gotta betray his own “turn the quiet up/turn the noise down” command. I wish country songs got remixed more often.

3 Responses to “Eric Church – Smoke a Little Smoke”

  1. “the “want a little more right, a little less left” makes me wonder why Eric thinks that (especially since he usually tends not to wear his politics on his sleeve)”

    Maybe he’s a swing voter.

  2. it’s more likely pandering to his base than anything

  3. He’s drunk and high throughout the song, right? So I hear it as apolitical, a mind grappling with expression by pulling words out of the atmosphere. He wants a little more right, because who doesn’t; then he wants a little less left, because that’s the opposite of right. Then he notices that “left” might have connotations of what’s been “left behind”, aka what’s in the past; so then he wants a little more right now, a little less what’s next, which has the good fortune to be assonant with “left”. Any political implications he probably notices only after he sobers up.