Country singer Eric Church paid tribute to the late, great Johnny Cash at the 2020 ACM Awards. Church played the guitar melody of Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag.” Rather than try to match the Man in Black’s baritone, Church let a recording of Cash recite the lyrics. In the background, images of Cash flashed across the stage while Church sat silhouetted.
Cash wrote “Ragged Old Flag” in 1974 during a time of political and social turmoil. The singer began to question his faith in America following President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War. Cash created the song to reaffirm his faith in “the goodness of American people.”
Eric Church performed his single ‘Stick That In Your Country Song.’
Following the tribute, Church performed a rendition of his new single “Stick That In Your Country Song.” Church’s started the song softly before his voice grew in an impassioned shout. While the singer performed, the image of a ragged American flag fluttered in the background.
Given its themes, the song may feel timely to some. The song mentions war, underpaid teachers and protests in American cities. But songwriters Davis Naish and Jeffrey Steele wrote the single back in 2015, according to The Boot.
The single, which dropped in June, will feature on Church’s upcoming album. Fans commented on the videos after the ceremony, praising Church’s performance. “I love that he is taking a stand, albeit very subtle and in your face, simultaneously,” one user wrote. Another user wrote, “Best performance of the night. Of the year. Incredible, Chief.”
On Twitter, user MamaK loved Church’s tribute to Cash.
Church also performed earlier in the night, playing with Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett. Following social distancing guidelines, the performers were in different locations but performed a medley of their greatest hits. Church performed “Drink In My Hand” at the Bluebird Cafe. The singer was nominated for Song of the Year for “Some Of It” but lost to Old Dominion for “One Man Band.”