Eric Church delivered a decidedly subdued performance of “Give Me Back My Hometown” on tonight’s 57th annual Grammy Awards — subdued by Church’s standards, anyway. Backed by his muscular band, the singer, in his requisite aviator sunglasses, was focused more on the nuances of his Number One single and his high-register vocals than on his usual onstage stomping and chest-thumping.
Written by Church and Luke Laird, the slow-burning ballad is a broken and disenchanted man’s view of his small town — complete with hazy streetlights and a forlorn Pizza Hut. Once a refuge for the narrator, the town and its landmarks are now forever haunted by the memory of his ex-lover, whom he sees around every corner.
Keith Urban, sporting a Nineties ponytail, introduced Church’s performance. The pair shared a nomination this year for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their duet “Raise ‘Em Up,” Urban’s new single. The Band Perry triumphed in that category for their take on Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind.”
Church was nominated for three other Grammys at this year’s ceremony. “Give Me Back My Hometown” competed in both the Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance categories. It lost to Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” in the Song race, and was bested by Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” in the latter. Church’s album The Outsiders was nominated for Best Country Album, alongside releases by Dierks Bentley, Lee Ann Womack, Best New Artist nominee Brandy Clark and Miranda Lambert, whose Platinum took home the prize.
This year’s recognition brings Church’s overall Grammy nominations to seven. At the 55th Grammy Awards, he scored a pair of nods for his Number One single “Springsteen” off 2011’s Chief, which was nominated at the 54th Grammys for Best Country Album.
Church, whose latest single “Talladega” recently hit Number One, is currently in the middle of his Outsiders World Tour. Last week, he delivered a full concert in Salt Lake City with only his guitar after his band and crew were taken ill with a stomach flu.