If you haven't been paying attention to country music in recent weeks, you've missed one of the year's best tracks. Eric Church's “Record Year” takes the age-old idea of relationship heartache and portrays it through the lens of popular music, as his narrator gets over a breakup by listening to familiar tunes.
Elton John once sang “Sad Songs Say So Much,” and those words have certainly proven true over the years. Who hasn't drowned their sorrows in a comforting song at one point or another? That easily relatable concept adds to the appeal of “Record Year,” which Church co-wrote with songwriter Jeff Hyde, who helped pen three other tracks on Church's Mr. Misunderstood album.
In the opening verse, Church calmly explains how he's been coping: “Since you turned the tables on me / I've been steady and learning lonely / Keepin' this turntable spinnin' / Everything from Jones to Jennings / Slowly planning my survival / In a three-foot stack of vinyl / Since you had to walk on outta here / I've been havin' a record year.”
Elsewhere, Church mentions Hank Williams, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, while also singing the lyric “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” referencing the 1950s blues song popularized in the '70s by George Thorogood. When Church sings about listening to music, he's not talking about iTunes – he's going old-school by throwing on his old vinyl records while enjoying an adult beverage: “I usually make it through side A sober / All bets are off when I flip her over.”
“Record Year” was released as a single way back in February and took several weeks to finally catch on, which is surprising since country radio loves Eric Church. But after its slow start, the song is now flying up the charts, moving six spots to No. 6 on the Country Airplay chart.
The title track from Mr. Misunderstood stopped at No. 15 on the charts, but “Record Year” has managed to work its way up to become the singer's 10th Top 10 hit. That includes two No. 1s, “Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen,” plus smash hits “Give Me Back My Hometown” and “Like a Wrecking Ball.”