December 26

Shenandoah’s “The Church on Cumberland Road”

Bob DiPiero, John Scott Sherrill and Dennis Robbins penned the songThe Church on Cumberland Road. The voice behind its video is American country music group, Shenandoah. Released in January 1989, it was the second single from their album The Road Not Taken. This track gave them their very first chart-topper in both the United States and Canada.

Writer’s Story

Originally, songwriters Sherrill, DiPiero, and Robbins made a cover of it. Back then, they had a band called The Billy Hill Boys. According to Sherrill, the character named Billy was fictitious. For some reason, this idea was not really a hit. The lead singer being fictitious created different kinds of problems on air and on stage. Eventually, they found a way. They put out one album with Warner Brothers and got halfway through another one. Furthermore, he added that they had a great time out on the road. During this, they had a chance to do some writing. When Shenandoah heard it, they loved it and made a great record.

Continuing with the interview, Sherrill shared that the song comes from an experience that DiPiero had in London. He was dead drunk in a pub outside of town with some songwriting friends of his over there. As they walked out unsteadily, the moonlight their guide, they saw a church. An old ancient British church stood across from the pub. The building was small but it had a big tower. As the sight was so beautiful, he swayed towards it and hugged it. Sherrill added more. Bob swore to write a song about it when the right time comes. When they got back to Nashville, DiPiero told them that story. Since then, he went on saying that they had been jamming with that melody for “The Church on Cumberland Road”. In their minds, they just transferred the church to America and put it on Cumberland Road.

On a live CMT special, Rascal Flatts covered the song in 2001. It is also the first song the members of Rascal Flatts performed live together before they became an official band in 1999.


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