Two and a half years ago, Eric Church scored a Number One hit with “Springsteen,” a nostalgic tune that used a familiar figure from pop culture — the Boss — as a sort of lens through which Church could reminisce, reflect and rock out. These days, the Chief is doing a similar thing with “Talladega,” the fourth single from his Grammy-nominated album The Outsiders.
Inspired by a concept whipped up by his longtime manager, John Peets, the music video for Church’s “Talladega” — which was released Friday, the same day The Outsiders picked up three Grammy nominations — loosely follows the song’s narrative of five friends who take a trip to the Talladega Superspeedway after high school graduation, making memories that’ll last for decades to come. The narrator in the four and a half-minute clip is an elderly Air Corps vet in a hospital bed. As his life flashes before his eyes — represented by clips of Super 8mm film that focus on friends, family and various hijinks — he smiles, finally ready to go to that great race park in the sky. The 8mm footage is intercut with shots of Church strutting and strumming, including clips of his road band playing at the Nashville Speedway. [Watch the video above.]
Peter Zavadil directed the video, beefing up a resume that already includes clips for several of Church’s past hits, including “Drink in My Hand,” “Cold One,” “Springsteen” and “Creepin’.” Meanwhile, Church teamed up with the co-writer of “Drink in My Hand” and “Give Me Back My Hometown,” Luke Laird, to write “Talladega” during a summertime tour stop in Albany, NY. It was July 2012, and the TVs in Church’s tour bus were dialed into the CokeZero 400 from Daytona International Speedway. Sitting in the bus’ lounge, the two musicians began strumming their guitars while the race unfolded onscreen.
“NASCAR was as hot as any sport back in the Nineties,” Church later told Billboard, “and it was a thing where a group of your buddies go take stuff, tents, camp out, stay a few days, walk back and forth to the track. We actually lost the damn car, you know; you’re so far away. I can’t tell you who won the race, but I could tell you all the experiences we had in a two- or three-day period.”
It’s those experiences — not auto racing itself, but the memories created during trips to the racetrack — that ground “Talladega.”
Meanwhile, Church continues to take laps around the country with the Outsiders World Tour, which wraps up its 2014 leg on December 13th and resumes on January 8, 2015.