Interview: ‘Friday Night’ Singer Eric Paslay Swings for the Fences on Debut Album
By Annie Reuter
Eric Paslay moved to Nashville over a decade ago with the sole purpose to sing his own songs. While life didn’t exactly unfold the way he’d planned, he doesn’t regret a second of it.
Before recording on his own, Paslay initially found success writings songs for others. Big success — three No. 1 hits and even a GRAMMY nod. Among the songs Paslay has written or cowritten are Jake Owen‘s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” Love and Theft‘s “Angel Eyes” and the Eli Young Band‘s GRAMMY- and ACM-nominated “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”
Now Paslay has recorded an album of his songs entirely under his own name, and his self-titled debut is due in stores next Tuesday (Feb. 4). On top of that, one of the songs, “Friday Night,” has been steadily climbing the country charts for weeks, and it’s currently sitting comfortably in the Top 5.
“I wrote ‘Friday Night’ with Rob Crosby and Rose Falcon,” Paslay told Radio.com. “It came out pretty quick. I remember mumbling out ‘Friday night.’ We had the melody and everything going. When we finally figured out, ‘How cool would it be to be somebody’s Friday night?’ we were off to the races with lyrics. It was a lot of fun writing it.”
Country fans may recall that the track initially appeared on Lady Antebellum‘s 2011 release, Own the Night.
“The wild thing is,” Paslay continued, “the way we recorded the work tape, Rose in a way was singing Hillary Scott’s [of Lady Antebellum] part, I was singing Charles’ [Kelley] part and Rob was singing Dave’s [Haywood] part, so it just sounded perfect for Lady Antebellum.”
At the time, Lady A was recording their album Own the Night, so Paslay and his pals sent the song over to them. “Friday Night” wound up earning a spot on Own the Night, and it was even set to be a single, though in the end it was never released as such.
Paslay doesn’t take offense, though (“It just wasn’t meant to be”). Even better, he explained, “someone had the great idea for me to sing the song. I was already singing it live, but we recorded it, gave it to radio and now it’s a hit, so that’s pretty cool.”
When Paslay went into the studio to record his own version of the song, he and his producer, Marshall Altman, tried their best to forget Lady A’s version and put their own spin on the song, with banjo and unique beats. This is something Paslay, in fact, has done with several of the tracks on the album that were originally recorded by other artists, including “Deep As It Is Wide” by Amy Grant and “Less Than Whole,” which he wrote with Big Kenny of Big & Rich.
“A lot of times when people talk about the other No. 1s I’ve had, they’re always like, ‘Man, stop giving away all of your hits!’” he said. “‘Deep As It Is Wide’ was one of the songs that I kept very close to my chest. A lot of people in town wanted to record it, but I was like, ‘I’ve got to be a part of this.’”