Eric Church delivered a seething performance of his timely "Stick That in Your Country Song" at the 2020 ACM Awards on Wednesday night (Sept. 16). Never one to shy away from tough topics, the Chief brought his message of social change to the awards show stage from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House.

The night's rowdiest performance began with Johnny Cash, which nobody saw coming. The late Man in Black recited his song "Ragged Old Flag" as Church and his band sat in the shadows, with just a tattered American flag above him. Then he began, slowly, softly. The urgency of his message grew with every verse until the end, when it seemed likely Church would reach through the screen to grab you by the throat and shout, "Stick that in your country song!"

The "Stick That in Your Country Song" lyrics seem tailor-made for 2020, especially as the song was released in the midst of nationwide protests calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. Church's message is to be a command to his fellow songwriters, challenging them to write about weightier subject matter than the usual country radio favorite topics of beer, trucks and pretty girls.

The song was actually written in 2015, however, five years before Church put it out. Still, the social context wasn't all that different: Songwriter Davis Naish, who co-wrote "Stick That in Your Country Song with Jeffrey Steele, recently explained to The Boot that they wrote the song amid a similar kind of unrest, after a 25-year-old Black man from Detroit named Freddie Gray died in police custody in April of that year. Subsequently, protestors were drawn out onto the city's streets.

Ever the black sheep of country music, Church has always focused on making music that is meaningful to him and his fans, often bucking radio trends. When he released "Stick That in Your Country Song," Church told fans that it was the first taste of his next album. Since then, he's released more music, including "Bad Mother Trucker" and "Crazyland."

Check Out Eric Church's ACM Red Carpet Look:

Church's performance of "Stick That in Your Country Song" was the second time he graced the ACMs stage on Wednesday night. Together with his fellow Entertainer of the Year nominees -- Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett -- he kicked off the show with a hits medley.

In addition to his nod in the Entertainer of the Year category, Church was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2020 ACMs for "Some of It."

See Pictures from the 2020 ACM Awards Red Carpet

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