Story Behind the Song: Eric Church, ‘Dark Side’
A Facebook message and a cryptic text led songwriter Travis Meadows to his first writing session with country superstar Eric Church — a meeting Meadows describes as a “test run.” He impressed Church during that test run, though, and the pair would later meet again, along with Jeremy Spillman, on a bus, to co-write Church's song “Dark Side.”
"Dark Side" appears on Church’s fourth studio album, 2014's The Outsiders. Below, Meadows recalls to The Boot how the song came to be.
[Music publisher] Arturo Buenahora Jr. reached out to me — it was so weird; it was on Facebook Messenger of all places — and asked, “Would you be interested in writing with Eric Church?” And I’m like, “Well, heck yeah!” And that was it; it was the end of the conversation.
Maybe a week or so later, I get this mystery text on my phone that really felt kind of James Bond-esque: “Meet at this building at so-and-so o’clock.” It didn’t say, "You’re writing with Eric," or anything. It was really awesome.
Eric and I got together, and we wrote a song, and it was a great song and a great experience. Looking back on it now, I kind of feel like it was a little bit of a test run. He ended up not recording that song, but it kind of earned my place on the bus, if you will.
Fast forward a little while, me and [Eric] and Jeremy Spillman got together on his bus, and we wound up writing “Dark Side.” Jeremy and I talked the night before the write, and we were trying to come up with ideas, because you want to show up with something — preferably not a knife to a gunfight; you want to have something good ...
We walked on the bus ... Eric came on, and [we had] some small talk, and Eric said, “Well, anybody got anything?” and Jeremy said, “I got this one little thing,” and he played a little bit of it, and I played something and sang a little bit of it.
Then there was this long, long awkward silence, and then Eric goes, “Well, I got this one thing.” He sings the entire first verse of “Dark Side” that he had been working on, and Jeremy and I just kind of laughed and said, “Yeah, let’s do that one,” because it was so great.
If I remember correctly, it was a relatively short write because Eric had a pretty good idea of what he was wanting to say, and I helped him round his thoughts together. God, I love that song.
When writing with Eric, we never do demos. So when we’re through writing, all we have is a phone recording, and that’s it. We never know what’s going to make the record ... We write, and you never know until the record came out if you made it or not. They’re pretty hush-hush over there, and I understand. It’s kind of a mystery, and everybody wants to be a part of that CIA operation they got going over there. We get a copy of the record in an unmarked envelope.
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