Talladega is a city in Alabama with a famous race track that hosts two annual NASCAR races. This nostalgic track is about a road trip the narrator takes with some pals driving his father's old Winnebago to the Talladega Superspeedway. "I didn't want to write just another song. I didn't want it to be about racing," Church told ESPN. "I wanted it to be about the emotional attachment that people have to a memory that involved going to a race. It wasn't about the race. It was about being with the people there and having that escapism."
Church wrote this song with one of his longtime songwriting partners, Luke Laird. They penned it on a bus in Albany whilst the Sprint Cup race at Daytona was being shown on a TV in the background. "We were sitting there," Church recalled to ESPN, "and the race was on, and they were showing people in the infield and they were showing fans, and we started talking about how, in iconic places like Daytona and Talladega and Bristol - and maybe even Martinsville, because I went there with a couple of my buddies one time -- that that is the identity of the city."
Church and Laird were initially unsure which iconic race track the song should be titled after, but they eventually plumped for "Talladega."
"It fit in there like it was supposed to be there," said Church. "And for me, some of my favorite moments from racing have revolved around the Talladega race. Still, Earnhardt coming from 9,000th to win it, that still to me is it -- that's the one."
"So if you talk about the heart of NASCAR, for me, there's two: Bristol and Talladega," he continued. "And I'm from North Carolina. That's the two I think of when I think about the true heartbeat of NASCAR."
Here are a couple more songs inspired by NASCAR:
"Can't Slow Down
" by Foreigner (Written by the band as a tribute to NASCAR in celebration of Foreigner's appearance at the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway earlier in 2009).
"Show Me Heaven
" by Maria McKee. (The theme song for the 1990 Tom Cruise movie Days Of Thunder
, which is about a NASCAR driver).
Also Church's music video for "Smoke a Little Smoke
" was shot at the Clarksville Speedway near Nashville and NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne and ESPN's NASCAR insider Marty Smith make cameo appearances.
Church told Billboard magazine the tune isn't about auto racing. "That is nothing more than the avenue through which the commentary took place," he explained to Billboard magazine. "It's really about life."
Luke Laird added, "You hear the title, and you think it's gonna be this joke song or something like Talladega Nights, the movie. Then they realize that, yes, that's the title, but it's so much bigger than that."
The video was directed by Church's frequent collaborator Peter Zavadil, from a concept by the singer's longtime manager John Peets. Church filmed his performance for the clip at the Nashville Speedway, weaving in archival Super 8 millimeter footage that tells a story involving family, celebration and racing.