Eric Church recorded his upcoming triple album, Heart & Soul, under some pretty extreme circumstances — but his longtime collaborator, famed Nashville songwriter Casey Beathard, was dealing with an even more difficult situation. During a virtual performance at the 2021 Country Radio Seminar on Thursday (Feb. 18), Church spoke about how his "Hell of a View" co-writer rose above the then-recent death of his son to produce some of his best work.

Beathard's son, Clayton, died in a stabbing outside a Nashville bar in the early morning hours of Dec. 21, 2019, after he and several friends confronted a man who had been harassing a female patron. In January of 2020, Church, his band, producer Jay Joyce and the rest of his team decamped to Artisanal, a farm-to-table restaurant in Banner Elk, N.C., that they converted into a recording space, and embarked on an ambitious, intense project that Church admits tested his own limits to the breaking point.

"And I wasn't sure if Casey was gonna be able to even be a part of this," Church says. "And he's such a big part of my music, and has been in the past, that it was a real thing." Beathard has written past Church songs including "Like a Wrecking Ball," "Homeboy" and "Like Jesus Does."

“But I’ve never seen anybody show the kind of strength and faith that Casey did," Church reflects. "He came up there, and I think that even though there was so much tragedy that had struck him personally, he really channeled the motivation and the creativity to, I think, do his best work. And, as a byproduct, so did I."

Church recalls coming back from a jog one day to find Beathard had completed a significant part of what would become "Hell of a View," Church's current single. "He called me over and he goes, 'This is really good, pay attention to this,' ... and it was really good," the singer remembers.

Church is slated to release Heart & Soul in three parts: the nine-song Heart on April 16; the six-song &, available only to Church Choir fan club members, on April 20; and the nine-song Soul on April 23.

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