Chris Janson + Eric Church Debut Live ‘You, Me & the River’ at Country Jam 2022 [Watch]
Chris Janson and Eric Church played separate, back-to-back sets at the Colorado-based country festival Country Jam on Thursday (June 23), which gave the two stars the perfect opportunity to play their new duet live for the first time.
During Church's headlining set, he welcomed Janson — who'd played just a couple of hours before — back to the stage for a live performance of "You, Me & the River," their Church-penned murder ballad from Janson's latest album, All In.
"I'm gonna do a surprise, kind of a special thing," Church told the Country Jam crowd, before calling Janson out to join him. "We had a chance to record together earlier this year, and we've not really done this since we were in the recording studio, but I'm never on stage with him. I never get a chance to do this. So we thought tonight...we'd try this."
Janson then hopped on stage with his acoustic guitar, amid raucous applause from the crowd, and the two artists launched into a performance of their song. After they finished, they shared a hug onstage before Janson waved to the crowd and departed.
"You, Me & the River" marks the first time that Janson has ever recorded a song that he didn't write for a major-label album. He previously told Taste of Country that his friendship with Church dates back to a May 2021 tribute to ZZ Top that took place at the Grand Ole Opry, where both Church and Janson were on the bill. They made plans to go fishing sometime and exchanged numbers, but their relationship quickly turned musical. Early one morning, Janson was flying back from a trip to Whitefish, Mont., and when he landed at 3AM, he looked at his phone and realized that Church had sent him the song that would go on to be "You, Me & the River."
"I'm thinking, '... Interesting. Is he pitching me this? He knows I write my own songs. I don't know what to say,'" the singer recounts. He immediately loved the song, though Church had some questions about it — he wanted to know if Janson thought it was too "dark," for instance.
Janson suggested doing a duet, and they leaned into that "darkness" — hard — for the music video, which tells a story about infidelity and deadly consequences. The black-and-white clip shows Church pulling a body into a river, and, separately, Janson burying a body, which is revealed to be Church.
"You, Me & the River" isn't the only song on All In that features Church's talents. Another track, "Flag on the Wall," is a song that the two wrote together.