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Here’s Shenandoah’s Timeless Hit, “Church On Cumberland Road”

Shenandoah - Church on Cumberland Road

In January 1989, Shenandoah released “Church On Cumberland Road” as the second single from their album The Road Not Taken. It became the country music group’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and Canada Country Tracks.

The song has become one of Shenandoah’s most enduring hits since. In fact, country music group Rascal Flatts covered the song during a live CMT special in 2001. It was the first song the Rascal Flatts members performed together in a live setting since they officially formed the band in 1999.

But did you know Shenandoah wasn’t the first to record the song? Two years before the band’s release, Dennis Robbins recorded “Church On Cumberland Road” himself as the B-side to his single “Two Of A Kind (Workin’ On A Full House)” – which also later went on to be a No. 1 country hit for Garth Brooks in 1991.

The Meaning Behind The Song 

Written by Dennis Robbins, Bob DiPiero, and John Scott Sherrill, “Church On Cumberland Road” tells the story of a man in a hurry to get to this little church on Cumberland Road where a girl is waiting for him. However, he met several challenges getting there, like his “bored-out Ford” going slow and his drunk friends. Apparently, he partied all night after a hard day at work.

Amidst the challenges and obstacles, the man emphasized the urgency to reach the church as he described the girl waiting there as the “cutest little girl that I ever have known” and that she might be crying.

John Scott Sherrill said the song drew inspiration from Bob DiPiero’s personal experience while in London.

He found himself heavily intoxicated in a pub on the outskirts of town, accompanied by a group of fellow songwriters. They stumbled out, and under the moonlight, opposite the pub stood an ancient British church—small yet adorned with a sizable steeple.

“A stone church in the moonlight, and it was so beautiful that he staggered over there and he hugged it,” Sherill said, adding that DiPiero promised to write about it someday. So, when DiPiero got back to Nashville to meet Sherrill and Robbins, he told them the story. Soon enough, they were jamming with that melody for “Church On Cumberland Road.” However, the trio shifted DiPiero’s church to America and positioned it on Cumberland Road.

You can play the video below to listen to  “Church On Cumberland Road”  by Shenandoah.

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