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A Conversation with Eric Paslay

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I was invited to sit down and talk with Eric Paslay before his performance at the House of Blues in Cleveland last November. It was an interview, but Paslay’s laid-back style made me feel like I was talking with a friend over a beer at the corner bar. Our conversation covered topics that included songwriting, his upcoming album, the CMA awards show and even his personal issues with diabetes.

Paslays career really took off when he started writing songs for other singers. His songs reached the top of the charts for Eli Young Band, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Love & Theft and then his own release “Friday Night.” He has collaborated with many co-writers and I asked if he had any that he would want to work with again.

“It really is a small community in Nashville,” Paslay admits. “There are those wells that you go back to, you like the water that you draw from. There are favorites that I have…Natalie Hemby, Nicolle Galyon, Matt Nolan, Skip Black, Sarah Buxton, Dylan Altman, Will Hoge…I’m going through the memories of great songs.”

Though it seemed as if Paslay could go on to name more I also asked who he would want to write with if he could. “The ones I dream of writing with… Dolly and Rodney Crowell, Tom Petty and Bono with the Edge and Harry Connick, Jr. … all those guys. I just look up to those people that have written great songs throughout the years.”

His next album, Dressed In Black, has been announced, but is still in production. “Hopefully next year it will be released, we’ve got some new songs and we’re working on them.” Paslay seemed like he was still unsure if all of the songs were the right fit for the next release. “Love the album, love the record. Still seeing if there are some other songs hiding and waiting to be on it. The day before (release) I might be like ‘you know let’s switch number seven and number two,’” admitted the Texas native.

Paslay has so many songs that he has written that could be considered for Dressed In Black. “I’ve been in Nashville 13 years and I’ve been writing and writing. I have a lot of songs, a lot of songs…like 80,” Paslay jokingly said. “I’m kidding. I’ve written over 1300 songs, and I definitely didn’t listen to all of them.”

“Even with this album it’s kind of interesting, because there are so many songs that I love and I totally want to share with the fans, and it’s like you don’t really know the rhyme or reason but somehow they don’t end up (on the album) this time. But, you realize if a song really wants to be heard it will be one day.”

Though Paslay may still be searching for the right mix of songs for his album, he seems sure that he has found the perfect tool to help in his everyday battle with diabetes. He teamed up with Dexcom, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems for diabetes management.

“I’ve had Dexcom for about 5 or 6 months,” Paslay stated. “I look back at to my life before as a diabetic for 23 years. It’s like prehistoric…you usually see someone prick their finger and put it on a test strip and it gives you a reading. With this it’s on my smartphone and I literally can see my reading.” With that Palsay reached for his phone, “I’m gonna pull it up right now…I’m at 113. So I can see exactly where I’m at. Every five minutes it shows me and it says I’m steady, so I’m good. I don’t need to eat anything or take any insulin.”

The CGM that provides Paslay with his reading can also be shared with others. “Right now my wife in Nashville probably just looked at because she loves me and she’s obsessive…in a good way,” said Paslay. “So tonight we get on a bus or we get in a van or we are in a hotel room and no one is really there to check on us. If I go low this alarm goes off and it also goes off in Nashville or wherever my wife is and I get the call ‘are you eating,’ yeah I’m eating some food… I’m getting my blood sugar level back up.”

The monitoring that helps Paslay with his glucose levels has also proved helpful in his live shows.

“When I’m on the road, like tonight, and when I’m playing a show and I’ve got my phone on me it goes straight to my tour managers phone. So, if I am heading towards a low blood sugar level I take care of it before it gets low.”

“There are so many shows that have been saved the last five or six months. I remember before this my blood sugar level would crash and I’d make up some words and usually people didn’t know too much, they may have had too much beer and didn’t realize I was mumbling through a low blood sugar level.”

He not only seemed relieved to have the new monitoring, but happy to share his story about it with others. “It’s the coolest thing to talk about because I’ve been a diabetic 23 years” stated Paslay. “I almost feel like all diabetics…here’s your insulin here’s a CGM. It makes no sense not to have a Dexcom with the insulin.”

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Eric Paslay at House of Blues in Cleveland.

The night before our conversation Paslay was at the 50th Annual CMA Awards show in Nashville. “I’ve gone to the awards show and sat on the floor for the last 4 or 5 years now. I’m like at home it’s like a family reunion…like hey it’s Kenny and Tim McGraw…not that I talk to those guys regularly,” he admitted. “Alan Jackson walked up and said ‘Hey Eric how are you doing?’ I didn’t say it, but I laughed thinking Alan Jackson knows my name, this is crazy, and he likes what I do!”

“Props to the CMA for doing what they did. They made sure that people that paved the road to get where we are, were there, Paslay said. “It was good to be reminded of what country music represents…great stories with melodies and emotion.”

Those great stories with emotion came from songwriters like Paslay and I asked if he could give a little advice for any aspiring songwriters. “You gotta swing the bat a lot,” Paslay said. “As a songwriter you gotta keep swinging the bat.” It’s a gift, keep doing it.”

“You know it’s easier to write…I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely…but, like who cares. If I’m giving you three or four minutes of my life…hopefully not seven minutes of my life ‘cuz then you need to learn how to write a short song” he added. “Maybe you deserve to be lonely…maybe you never asked the person out, maybe you cheated, maybe you never even said “hi”…but the moment you say ‘I’m lonely and I wish you were here’ everyone listening goes, “Why?” And they lean in…and then you give them another line ‘cuz I miss your beautiful eyes’….oh, you do now do you…Why?” Paslay went on to add, “Why should someone give me another second that they can spend elsewhere to listen to this song…just remember as a listener, I do want to know how you feel, but I also want to make sure I’m included.”

That ended our interview and I went out to watch Paslay perform for the crowd at House of Blues. While watching him perform and watching the crowd get lost in his music I remembered one other question I asked of him…If you had to make a choice which would you choose performing or songwriting…Paslay simply answered, “That’s like asking Picaso what color do you want to paint with, blue or red.”

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1 Comment

  1. Kimberly Beck

    January 21, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Eric Paslay is not only a talented singer and songwriter wrote barefoot bluejean night for Jake Owen changed his life! But He is One of The kindest most humble artists I have met!! I support his talent and music 110% Can’t wait for today’s concert we are already in line. I can’t say enough kind words about him to express what an amazing person he is!!!

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