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Eric Church on Meeting Obama: ‘Found Him Nothing But Great’

Singer spoke with the president at a memorial service in D.C. – where Church was annoyed by the behavior of two senators

Eric Church performs on the 'Holdin' My Own' tour at the Allstate Arena, in Rosemont, ILEric Church in Concert - , IL, Rosemont, USA - 13 Apr 2017

Eric Church recalls meeting President Obama at a 2015 memorial service in D.C.

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Eric Church shares his recent voting history in the new cover story of Rolling Stone‘s August issue. He voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, but he sat out the 2012 and 2016 elections. His reasoning for the latter?  “I don’t want to vote for somebody I’ll regret voting for,” he says.

Church actually met Obama and had the chance to speak with him during the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington, D.C., in 2015. The singer’s grandfather was the police chief of Granite Falls, North Carolina, (from whom Church takes his nickname, “Chief”) and was invited to perform at the event. While he enjoyed his moment with Obama – “Found him nothing but great” – the behavior of two senators rubbed him the wrong way.

“I got asked to come and sing a song called ‘Standing Their Ground,’ which was a song I never recorded. So I played the song and I sat down, and then President Obama got up and spoke. He gave a great speech. Very sincere and eloquent,” Church says. “And then something annoyed me. He went down to the front row where they had the families of the fallen officers, and he went down the line shaking their hands. And two senators that will remain unnamed – who were Republicans – came over and were both very eager to talk to me about my career and music. They were congratulating me and saying, ‘great job,’ while the president was shaking hands. And then they left. Didn’t shake hands. They were out. They got their picture taken onstage, then walked out the back.”

Church was pissed. “I thought, ‘What world do we live in that the President of the United States is shaking the hands of fallen families, and these senators leave?’ I thought it was disrespectful as hell – both to the families and to the president. Both my grandfathers fought for this country in World War II. My grandfather would whip my ass if I left before the President of the United States. I don’t care if I agree with anything the guy says. I’m not leaving. Even now, if it was President Trump, I’m not leaving before him. And both of them did.”

Earlier this month, Church announced his new album Desperate Man and shared the title track to the LP, a rhythmic soul-rocker that evokes both his own “Chattanooga Lucy” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Desperate Man will be released October 5th. Read the full Rolling Stone cover story interview with Church here.

[Interview by Josh Eells.]

In This Article: Eric Church, RSX

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