After playing at the Route 91 Festival last weekend, Eric Church had a hard time returning to the stage this week. Dedicating his performance to a fan who died in Las Vegas that also had tickets to his show in Nashville, Eric Church appeared at the Grand Ole Opry. He made this emotional speech followed by the performance of the song he wrote this week.
“This past Friday, I played the Harvest Music Festival in Vegas. I was the headliner. I looked out there, at that crowd, in that place. It was our last show of the year and I watched them hold American flags up during “How ‘Bout You.” I watched them put an American scarf around my neck during “Springsteen,” they held records up when I played “Record Year,” they held boots up when I played “These Boots.” I was so moved by it, mainly because I looked at ‘em and went “This is my crowd. I’ve seen this crowd all year, they’re mine.” They came from all over the country because it was our last show, and I did something different on the last song on “Springsteen.” I jumped down on the speaker, and I went down, actually on the floor, it was a high stage so I actually jumped out on the ground. And there was a little row that split the crowd, and it went all the way to my front of house guy and it split the crowd on either side so, the crowd was on the right side, the crowd was on the left side. I went down the right side and I shook everybody’s hand and I told them “Thank you for coming, it’s been a heck of a year, it’s been a hell of a year actually.” And I went all the way down the right side, waved at my sound guy, came back up the left side, smiling faces, hands in the air, pictures being taken. I jumped back up on stage and played “Holdin’ My Own” and “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young.” And 48 hours later, in those places that I stood, was carnage. Those are my people. Those are my fans.
I didn’t want to be here tonight. I didn’t want to play guitar. I didn’t want to walk on this stage, but last night, let me try to get this out, last night somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton and she was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN and she had on our Church Choir Tour shirt. And he said, “what brought you to Vegas?” and she goes “We went there to see Eric Church because he was Sonny’s [her husband who died] it was his guy, and we went there to see his guy.” And then she said “We have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.” And there’s a, over here, section 3, row F, if you’re there in row F, there’s some empty seats and that’s their seats. And, I’m gonna tell you something, the reason I’m here, the reason I’m here tonight, is because of Heather Melton and her husband Sonny, who died, and every person that was there. I’ll tell you something, I saw that crowd. I saw them with their hands in the air. I saw them with boots in the air. And what I saw, that moment in time that was frozen there’s no amount of bullets that can take away. None.
And that night, something broke in me, on Sunday night when that happened. And the only way I’ve ever fixed anything that’s been broken in me is with music. So I wrote a song…”