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See Eric Church’s Freewheeling ‘Me and Paul’ at Willie Nelson Tribute Concert

‘Desperate Man’ singer-songwriter’s performance was a highlight of Nashville salute to Nelson

Eric Church was among the guests at Saturday night’s all-star musical tribute to Willie Nelson, held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. For his turn on the stage, Church even sang one of the country’s legend’s great road songs, “Me and Paul.”

The title track from Nelson’s 32nd studio album released in 1985, “Me and Paul” nods to Nelson’s drummer Paul English — a devilish figure who wore an outlandish cape — and imagines the outlaw life to resemble something akin to that of a running and gunning country musician. Church keeps it loose for his rendition, getting some enthusiastic applause for the first time he sings the line, “I guess Nashville was the toughest, but you know I’ve said the same about them all.” Longtime Nelson bandmate Mickey Raphael steps up to provide a colorful harmonica solo at one point, shining a light on the evening’s stellar house band, which included Raphael, Don Was, Amanda Shires, Jamey Johnson and steel-guitar ace Paul Franklin.

Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw was taped for airing on the A&E network at a later date in 2019. Other performers included George Strait, Sheryl Crow, Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Steve Earle and Lee Ann Womack. Church, meanwhile, launches his Double Down Tour this week on January 18th in Omaha, Nebraska, playing back-to-back shows in every city he visits, except for Nashville, where he’ll perform one night at the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium. Church recently released the latest single “Some of It,” off his new album Desperate Man, to radio.

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