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Behind The Song: The Eli Young Band’s ACM-Nominated ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’

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The Eli Young Band

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Kurt Wolff
Kurt Wolff
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ACM Awards 2013
ACM Awards

The Eli Young Band was handed an awesome surprise at last year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, when their hit “Crazy Love” was awarded Song of the Year. And at this year’s ACM Awards, the four bandmates (Mike Eli, Jon Jones, Chris Thompson, and James Young) have a solid chance of repeating that success–perhaps even twice over, as their Number One single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” has been nominated for both Song of the Year and Single Record of the Year.

It was “a song that we really believed in, that we felt told out story,” Jon Jones told Radio.com about “Breaks Your Heart.” “We didn’t know if it was going to work on country radio because it’s such a passion song about playing music. And we were really lucky that people latched onto it and put themselves in the song.”

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was the Texas group’s second consecutive Number One country single, topping charts last July. (They had a third later that year, too, with their self-proclaimed “sappy love song” “Say Goodnight.”)

Appearing on the group’s 2011 album Life at Best, “Breaks Your Heart” was written by Will Hoge and and Eric Paslay. (Paslay cowrote “Barefoot Blue Jean Nights” for Jake Owen and “Angel Eyes” for Love & Theft, among other songs, while Hoge has spent years as both a writer and recording artist, with a long string of independent album releases under his belt.)

As Mike Eli told Radio.com, the EYB members initially heard “Break Your Heart” on one of Hoge’s own albums. “When we talked about making the next record, that song just popped up. We knew right away that we wanted to put it on [our] record. Once it crossed our mind, we couldn’t get our brain off of it.”

“It was a totally selfish thing,” said Chris Thompson. “We didn’t think, ‘Oh this is going to be a single.'” Instead, he continued, they loved the song, pure and simple. “And it turned out to be our second number one.”

During a conversation with Detroit’s WYCD last summer, Eli said they felt the song told their story–about being a band for the last dozen or so years and “playing every show we could.” And never mind that they didn’t write it themselves. “When a great song comes your way, you don’t ignore it.”

“Breaks Your Heart” is also notable for landing the prominent spot as lead song on Life at Best.

“We felt it set the tone for the whole record,” Eli explained to Radio.com. “It was one of the first songs we recorded for the album. With that slow build, we felt it was a great opener.”

The four members of the Eli Young Band–who themselves have also been nominated for Vocal Group of the Year this year’s ACMs–are currently on the road with Kenny Chesney as part of the No Shoes Nation Tour.

The 48th annual ACM Awards air Sunday, April 7 at 8pm ET (delayed PT) on CBS.

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