When Luke Bryan hosts CMA Best of Fest Monday on ABC, it’ll showcase superstar performances from the last sixteen years. It’ll also feature never-before-seen moments, like Eric Church‘s non-stop half-hour hits medley from last year.

Less than a month earlier, Eric set a new attendance record at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, and was determined to top that.

“I was having a bit of a brain thing…” he admits. “We’d set the record, and in my opinion, [put on] the best show of our career. And then I’m back three weeks later, and I’ve gotta figure out how to do something that’s gonna be memorable again.”

Earlier that day, Eric hit on the idea of taking the stage alone, recreating a popular concert moment. Typically, he weaves cover tunes into “Mistress Named Music.” But this time, he’d fill it with his own hits.

“That had taken on its own form during the tour,” Eric explains. “People knew about it, it’d become popular.”

“They probably thought I was gonna do ‘Piano Man’ and all these things,” he continues. “And to go in and cover myself for those seventeen songs, I thought… would be a really neat thing.”

Practicing alone on his bus with a timer, Eric recalls how much fun it was to try to make it work. But still he was unsure.

“My fallback is I’m just gonna play five songs,” he remembers. “I’d go back, and I’d work on it again.”

“And finally I thought, ‘Okay, I can do this. It’s gonna be something. It’s gonna be ballsy, if nothing else,"” he laughs.

An hour before, Eric sent his band home to force himself to follow through. 

You can preview the results on YouTube, ahead of CMA Best of Fest Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

By Stephen Hubbard
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