On Luke Combs’s podcast, “Bootleggers Radio,” NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning got to talking country music recently.
During the course of the episode, Manning revealed what his favorite song is and who some of his favorite country artists are.
It all began when Manning left his home in New Orleans to attend college at the University of Tennessee, he said. Before college, Manning had been mostly listening to his parents’ music – a little Beatles, some Elvis, a lot of oldies. But that all changed when he got to school.
Peyton Manning Discovers George Strait
“All of a sudden, I go to college in Knoxville, University of Tennessee, and it is country music everywhere you go,” Manning recalled. “I just got hooked on it right away, and George Strait was one of the first artists just started listening to. And during my time in college, he put out a lot of great songs.”
Manning said he played “Amarillo By Morning” over and over on his CD player. The song is about a destitute rodeo cowboy heading for Amarillo, Texas.
And it has a lot of fans besides Manning. Strait launched an “Amarillo by Morning” TikTok challenge recently. He got a ton of amazing submissions in response.
“The sign of a good song is when you can put it on repeat and just keep playing it over and over again,” Manning explained. “And I got to see George in concert in Knoxville, he came and played Thompson Boling Arena, got to meet him, I want to call it 1995. That was a real thrill. And he and I’ve established a friendship since then.”
“So couldn’t pick a top 10 without putting a George Strait song, and ‘Amarillo by Morning’ is my favorite,” he concluded.
Manning Is Also a Fan of Eric Church
Country star Eric Church also occupies a lot of space on Manning’s playlist.
“Eric’s a guy I’ve gotten to know these past few years, and I think my appreciation for his music has grown even more with hearing his story, and hearing how he got started in the industry, and the time and the work that he puts in, and ideas for songs,” Manning said. “I mean, to me, it’s the process. Right? You’re always hearing Nick Saban at Alabama talking about the process. That’s all that goes into what happens on Saturday afternoon.”
“It’s no different for you guys, all the work behind the scenes,” he continued. “[Church is] a grinder. He loves it. He loves everything about it. He’s great in concert, in person, heard him at Red Rocks, heard him at The Pepsi Center here in Denver, and a great live performer.”
Church reportedly keeps a list of all the people who held him back early on in his career, and he brings it onstage with him when he plays. That includes Rascal Flatts, who fired him from a tour because his sets ran too long.
But Church is in a better place now. And with high-profile fans like Manning to sing his praises, he’s got to feel at least a little bit vindicated.