Eric Church's timely new single, "Stick That in Your Country Song," sounds as though it could have been written yesterday — and yet, it's actually been around for five years.

Davis Naish and Jeffrey Steele co-wrote the song in 2015. At the time, they knew it was meant for Church, but they had no idea it would feel just as relevant by the time they'd get it into his hands.

"It was written in a time not not too dissimilar from from where we are now, just with a lot of kind of unrest," Naish tells The Boot. Two years earlier, in 2013, the City of Detroit had filed for bankruptcy; in April of 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man, died in police custody, drawing protestors to the city's streets. Church shouts out both cities in the first few lines of "Stick That in Your Country Song."

War and violence in school, two more unfortunate realities Naish and Steele wove into "Stick That in Your Country Song," were also making headlines back then. Within country music, "bro-country" was a relatively new term, but the biggest hits in the genre were certainly trending toward carefree and party-ready.

At the time, however, Church had recently finished his Mr. Misunderstood album, so the two tunesmiths held onto their newly written track until the right moment. It came when Church invited Steele to write with him for his forthcoming album.

"[He got] up the courage to send the song to Eric and just see what he thought of it," Naish explains. "And I remember Jeffrey telling me that Eric basically spent an hour where he couldn't get past the first verse: He just kept rewinding it and kept playing it."

Church's recording sessions for his next project took place in January, in the mountains of North Carolina, before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of live shows and tours, and kept much of the country under safer-at-home orders for weeks. It was also before the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, Minn., sparked protests and prominent conversations about racism and inequality in the United States.

"It really became almost a harbinger of things that were to come ... and as real as the song was to me then, it became a hundred times more real as time continued to evolve," Church says. "That's rare. I've only had that happen maybe a time or two. And it just felt like I was meant to cut the song and to sing the song, and that's the reason it's the first single.

"It felt like it was the right song for the right moment in time," Church adds. "And I'm proud of the job we did on it."

That "Stick That in Your Country Song" remains so relevant five years later is, Naish admits, a bit of a double-edged sword. "It was tricky for the first day [of knowing this song was going to be a single] to, like, navigate my excitement with this message being relevant again," he reflects.

Now living in Los Angeles, Calif., the writer spent his first night in a new apartment in West Hollywood the day of the area's headline-making protests over Floyd's death. "I think that when I got the news ... there was something that caught me. It was like, 'Man, this message is still relevant.'"

"Stick That in Your Country Song" is Church's first single from his next album, the details of which have yet to be announced. The project will be his first since 2018's Desperate Man.

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