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 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. Clayton's older brothers are singer-songwriter Tucker Beathard and C.J. Beathard, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

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. They converted the venue to 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 by-product, 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."

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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