Outsiders Radio: Episode #10
AIR DATE: NOV 2015
This is Eric Church and for this episode of Outsiders Radio, I decided to get together with the people that actually made the Mr. Misunderstood album. Everybody who was involved, I’m sitting here with my band, Jeff Hyde, Driver Williams, Jeff Cease, Craig Wright and then Jay Joyce. We played all the stuff on the record and decided we didn’t really talk about the record. It was a surprise, so we thought it would be good to get together and talk about the tracks. And this be kind of the track by track and break down each song and some stories behind the songs. So, let me set the scene for everyone. We are all in, actually, where our pop-up store was in East Nashville on a street corner. We’re all just sitting together around a couple microphones. None of this is scripted. I’ve not even seen these guys very much in the last couple weeks. Mr. Misunderstood was a song that we went in the studio, we cut it live like we did everything else and my funny story, listen to this one, I’ve never had a band member try to pay me to re-cut a song, and that was Craig, that was the drummer. He calls me, cut it, without a click. But because it was a living, breathing thing, and frankly, Jay, I think it might’ve been the first take, right? Yeah, this is the first take and ‘cause we didn’t know it real well, you can feel it. You can feel it slow down, you can feel it speed up.
Craig: That was the first take of the first song of the first day that we got together.
Eric: That was the first hour. I think you were still getting drum sounds.
Craig: Yeah, I think it was the first song we finished.
Eric: And the interesting thing there is we never, I don’t know how much we talked about that song as far as the speed up and everything, but we talked about going from kind of a double time thing.
Craig: Yeah, you had an idea of how you wanted it to evolve in to the second half of it and we were just still finding our way, really. We cut it a few more times, but it never had that same energy as that first take.
Eric: I actually did a thing right after with Gregg Allman, I had to go out and do a tribute thing for him. And I was sitting out there with him and I was telling him the story about this song. I said you know, it slows down, it speeds up and he said, “man… you don’t ever wanna be the same. You don’t ever wanna stay the same tempo. They’re alive man, let ‘em be alive.” And I thought of you.
Craig: Well you know, that’s just the way music has changed. The way people go about making records now. It’s very, you know, squared off on the ends with regard to tempo and things like that. So, when you hear something that moves around like that, it’s shocking in a way.
Eric: Do you still want to pay me?
Craig: I’m good with it now, we’re alright.
Eric: Let’s play Mr. Misunderstood. You can hear the song move a couple places, especially in that last chorus; you can really feel it slow and then take off again. Listen for that. Here’s the title track, Mr. Misunderstood.
“Mr. Misunderstood” – 5:19 - Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Mr. Misunderstood, the title track, of our new, surprise album. The second song on this record is a song called Mistress Named Music and the cool thing to me is if you treat this record as vinyl and you have Side A and Side B, both the first two tracks on Side A and Side B merge into each other. That happened with Mistress Named Music and Jay we can talk about this a little bit… The noise you hear that carries through that hum, was the actual noise that we heard with the generator of the work tape. It had this undertone noise. You can hear the generator in the background and it just has a tone, it has a noise, and it stays through the entire song.
Jay: Yeah it was like a high, whistle kind of sound.
Eric: We ended up taking that and matching that hum really through the song and tying that together just from sittin’ on the bus. But, the neatest part of the song, there’s a couple things here, but when you get to that break down part, to me, the song really happens. And that was Jay, one night we were trying to figure out how to take this to another place and I don’t know, I left and didn’t know what to do and came back and you had this part that kind of changes keys but not and gets kind of cool and weird and we had Driver there and all got together and made that part happen. But the neatest thing to me is it talks about chasing a song and then that’s what we do. We chased one. Do you want to talk about that?
Jay: Oh man, you know that song evolves like, its got everything in it, you know. But I don’t know man, it was just like what the fuck do I do? ‘Cause I wanted to go somewhere different, but, yeah.
Craig: I love that track and just how musical it is. It takes you on a big curve through the whole thing. Especially that first verse or two there’s so much open space.
Driver: I think we spent more time cuttin’ this track than any others. We cut the first, like the song, the first day and we didn’t know where we were gonna go.
Jay: It was like well, let’s hope for the best. It was incomplete.
Driver: Then we came back the next day and Jay had this amazing kind of part done and it builds into this big kind of southern rock thing, and I thought we were just doing this part, kind of like on the outro of Outsiders, that kind of Metallica-esque part. I thought we were just going to do that and then Jay said, go for it and lay a solo down.
Eric: There’s a ton of soul on that track and mainly because we were chasing the song. We didn’t know where we were going to arrive or end up. And this is probably my favorite track maybe we’ve ever done.
Jay: Yeah, it’s awesome. And it was kind of like, it was so something I didn’t think it was going to be. I think we were all kinda like let’s put it away and listen to it again later, you know. What have we done, you know? But every time we hear it, it gets better and better.
“Mistress Named Music” – 5:22 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Mistress Named Music. Back here,listening and actually going through track by track, Mr. Misunderstood, our new album that kind of fell together and just happened over the course of a couple weeks. Let’s hear a little bit of the demo too… so we can actually hear what we’re talking about with that hum, that noise, here is Mistress Named Music:
“Mistress Named Music” demo
Eric: The next track on the album, I’ve written a lot of songs and it’s one of the more challenging and fun songs that I’ve ever had to write. I wrote it with Jeff Hyde, who’s here today, thank God, and Ryan Tyndell. It was an idea that I had kind of the chorus thing just in my phone and I remember when I came in and pitched it to Jeff and Ryan, they both looked at me kind of cross-eyed for a little bit, but we eventually got there, we eventually found it. In that demo too, interestingly enough, that tambourine thing Ryan had in the demo, in the room, so you always try to find more creativity, where inspiration happens. I’ve always said so many times, it happens at the point of writing that song. Because that’s where your creating it. I think there was a lot on this album that had happened in that room and then we just had to come just do what we do. This one, a couple things, Jeff Cease, I remember sending you a copy of the demo, I think the night before or something and said, hey we’re gonna be doing this tomorrow or a couple days or whatever it was, and we didn’t really know what to do with this song, where this song was gonna go, and I remember you walked in and just had it all together, man. You had the part and said, “I got an idea.” Had the guitars, and that really led us to that, which is my favorite part of the song, the breakdown part, again, kind of like Mistress Named Music. There’s two songs in a row where we just let music happen, let creativity happen. That was kudos, where did you come up with that?
Jeff Cease: When you sent me the song the day before I listened to it and I just had the twelve strings sitting in front of me, you know, it was on the couch, and I said, I’m gonna grab this and see what key it’s in. I’m tuned to that open cord, and it just happened. It was like, I’m totally doing that; that’s the part, I’ll come up with something else in case it doesn’t work, but that’s the part. And I liked it; I thought it was cool. The top of that’s a little nod to Bo Diddley.
Eric: Which is great.
Jay: Yeah, without that, to me the song, it was like, killer, but I was like, man, is it a song yet, you know what I mean? And then once that sort of whole middle jam section came in…
Eric: It kind of went to a place and stayed there, it didn’t elevate again. It had the same feel. That really elevated into that outro. And the organ work is great in that too. Man, that thing it really lifts it.
Jay: Oh, of course.
Eric: And Joanna. Joanna’s not here today, but we can’t forget Joanna Cotten. We should actually…
Craig: And Lee.
Jay: Oh yeah, Lee. I thought so.
Eric: That’s funny, I didn’t even know Lee wasn’t here.
Craig: That’s how you know he’s a good bass player, man. You just don’t know he’s there. Jeff Cease: …So in the pocket!
Eric: Let’s hear from Joanna. One of my favorite singers, Joanna Cotten, anybody that’s been to our shows knows the part she plays in not only our shows but in recording the album. So, here’s a song from hers, from a couple few years ago. From one of the first times I was introduced to her. It’s a song called Funkabilly. You can hear a lot of that Memphis soul that I think Joanna brought to this album and I think this album has. Here it is…
“Funkabilly” – 3:33 – Joanna Cotton - Funkabilly
Eric: That was Joanna Cotten, Funkabilly. Now let’s hear the track that we were talking about before that. Chattanooga Lucy, third track on the album, featuring Joanna Cotten. Here it be…
“Chattanooga Lucy” – 3:23 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Chattanooga Lucy, third track on Mr. Misunderstood. The next song on the album is a song that I wrote by myself. I used to do a lot more writing by myself when I first came to town. It was important to me on this album to at least try to do more of that. This was a song that I had written and had for a few days, really, before we went in the studio and sat down to do it. A couple things for this album stand out, at least in the recording part. One, is Jay, used a little toy piano, looked like a little Charlie Brown piano. The plinky thing. What’s it got, twelve keys?
Jay: Yeah, it’s a little miniature, out-of-tune, toy piano.
Eric: And that was what you were going for the miniature, out-of-tune, toy piano sound?
Jay: Well, you didn’t particularly care for it, remember?
Eric: I didn’t. I got over it. Kinda like Craig got over the tempo.
Jay: But we snuck it back in there later.
Eric: I heard it, I still hear it. It’s cool. It’s gives it kind of an upright… I understand what you were going for.
Jay: A little bit of a “warble”
Eric: When you solo that thing though, on its own, it’s very interesting… And that was just four or five of us sittin’ around.
Jay: That was live man, that was live. I wasn’t sure that piano part was gonna work. Remember, we kinda took a break outside, I was explain’ it and we came in and just started going together.
Eric: And we had the idea. Actually, I gotta give my wife, she’s a huge fan of Susan Tedeschi, she always has been, I can remember being in our first place we ever lived together, in an apartment, she used to listen to Susan all the time. She’s a big fan of her vocals and when Katherine even first heard the song, she said she would be great for that part. I could hear it in my head, and it was funny when I sang it that day we hadn’t even gave it to Susan yet and I was trying to sing the second verse thinking of her in mind. It just made it, you know, there’s certain times when a song becomes a song and it was a song when we did it, but it became a song when she was on it and it became a moment. Again, another one of my favorites that we’ve ever done in my entire career. It just has a mood and an honesty that’s just cool to me. And a heaviness, maybe.
Jay: Yeah, you know, what’s crazy about this record, I was thinkin’ the other day, not that we go overdub crazy, but we have on other records, but this record, man, we barely did any…that song there was no overdose. That was the live take, except for Susan, which we kind of really wish she could have been there for, but she sang like she was there. But I thought that was unusual, that nothing was put on after. Like, that was it. You can feel it.
Eric: Well I think that’s the whole album. About every song is that way.
Jay: Yeah, just about every song is a live vocal.
Eric: Speaking of roots and speaking of people who play and sing, ‘et’s here from Susan Tedeschi. Here’s a single called Anyhow, it’s the first off the album. Her album Let Me Get By will be out January 29th. So go get that. It will be out everywhere. Pre-order is actually starting around November 20th on iTunes and Amazon. So here’s Anyhow from Susan…
“Anyhow” – 6:34 – Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By
Eric: That was Susan Tedeschi with Anyhow, the first track off her album Let Me Get By, which will be out January 29th. Speaking of Susan, let’s now hear from her off Mr. Misunderstood. The fourth track on the new album: Mixed Drinks About Feelings. Here we are…
“Mixed Drinks About Feelings” – 3:00 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Craig: I think that’s the song that’s firmly got its foot planted in old school country, you know, from a song standpoint or whatever. The topic of it and just the way we approached it, which I think is really cool. ‘Cause everybody gets all uptight about you know, country music being “too rock” or “too hip-hop” or too whatever it is. If they want a country song, there’s a country song.
Eric: It’s got that closin’ time piano too. That late at night, it kind of ends with that.
Craig: It’s so simple and dark, you know, like you said, it’s got an honest lyric about it. It’s cool in that way.
Eric: Yeah, and country has gotten, I mean, to me this whole album has more of a roots-base, with just us in a room playing. You can touch that, you can feel that. I think some of what’s happened now is that it’s kind of gone a little bit crazy, a little bit wild with where people are going. I love going places, I’m all about experimenting, but I think there is a baseline that has to come back to the music, it has to come back to playing it, writing it, singing it. This song for me, and this whole album, is really rooted there.
Driver: A lot of country now is done as they say, “in the box”, which is like maybe one guy or two guys in the studio doing tracks. That’s what’s so cool about this record too is all of us were in the room together doing it live as it happened.
Eric: I mean we’ve had some acts in the past year, we can’t name who they are, but there’ve been people that I’ve seen on shows that their entire show would go down if they didn’t have a battery plug in for their iBook or iPod. There was one act that was gonna cancel, so I mean it’s become, this whole thing has become so computer and track driven.
Jay: I mean, I do records and then I have to do, you know, stems for bands that take that stuff out. I don’t want to know where it’s played or what. I don’t go to the shows, but another thing about that is this particular group of people, you can’t just get any four or five people in a room and expect for that to happen. I think we’ve always, for some reason, got pretty lucky getting from point A to point wherever. It’s always surprised us. I do a lot of records, it doesn’t happen like that with everybody. So, I believe that there’s the right spirits in the room at the right time with the right intention and boom, the sky’s the limit.
Eric: The next track on the album is probably, maybe the most interesting we’ve done. I think it’s certainly the most interesting on this album. I wrote it with Jeremy Spillman and Travis Meadows, two of my favorite people to write with, two of my favorite writers. A lot of people have asked about the storyline. I’m not gonna reveal, they’ve asked if the guy killed somebody or didn’t, we’re not gonna go there, ‘cause I honestly don’t really know the answer. When we wrote it, it wasn’t written that way, it was written with an open-ended thing, but I really love this thought of a manhunt, and there’s a desperation in this character, that in this song that I wanted to try to capture and in all the places that I’ve ever been, New Orleans is kinda one of those places. That you could go there and something could happen and you could hide out in that city for a bit and move around and maneuver and that’s really what this was. And as this song builds, I think the desperation builds. The track, I had no idea was going to turn into the track it turned into. I mean, Jeff, you too, had that little, was that a baritone guitar that you were playing?
Jeff Hyde: Yes, baritone acoustic.
Eric: That little, just low, driving, to me, it builds tension. Even from the start of the song, I can feel that thing. Not to steal from the title, but it’s cutting; it’s biting. And I think that, you’re probably not gonna talk anymore about that, but if you’d like to talk…
Craig: Well when Jeff Hyde’s in the room, there’s always tension.
Jeff Hyde: I feel a lot of tension right now…but the good thing about that for me, was I only had to play like three notes on the guitar. So it was easy for me to get through.
Jay: No it wasn’t.
Jeff: You’re right it wasn’t.
Eric: It’s the fastest he’s played, maybe.
Jay: And the hardest.
Eric: And the hardest, that’s right. We really made you bear down.
Jeff: It was really difficult, but I made it through somehow.
Eric: And then Jay, you had the guitar part. That came in and had kind of an anthemic thing. And I love how the band doesn’t arrive on that track until really the chorus, right, of the track.
Craig: Well that first “I did what I did” and wham, that’s awesome.
Eric: Yeah, but then the bleeding memory, which is what I’m calling the chorus, is when you really get in. It’s the first time, and that’s like a minute and a half into the song.
Craig: I love that track.
Eric: Yeah, I do too. And the idea I did what I did, the desperation to me really comes out at the end. Those “I did what I did, I did what I did, I did what I did” you can feel that thing building.
Jeff Hyde: What did he do?
Eric: I can’t talk about it.
Driver: You’re almost rooting for the guy at the end, even though he’s done this terrible thing that you don’t know.
Eric: Well you think he has, that’s the thing. Maybe he didn’t, that’s the thing. And we talked about that in the room. I’ve never written a song with two other people that we all had a different outcome. I had my own and Travis had his own and Jeremy, and we’re writing the same song, but something different happened in each of our minds and that’s what I think is really cool about it. It’s a choose your own adventure.
Jay: You would’ve ruined it if you finished it. If you had told what it is.
Jeff Hyde: I told Eric, I don’t know what the heck that means, but its bad to the bone.
Jeff Cease: I love the idea about New Orleans and what you said about it being a place you could go and hide anywhere in plain sight. I’ve always told everyone close to me, if I ever disappear, it’s probably New Orleans; ‘cause you can’t find me. So that’s where I’ll be.
Jay: You know what, it’s an interesting fact, if you remember we cut that on the ten year anniversary of Katrina. It was that day.
Eric: I didn’t know that…wow.
Jay: Yeah. Crazy.
Eric: Here’s Knives of New Orleans.
“Knives Of New Orleans” – 4:02 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Knives Of New Orleans. The last track on Side A if you’re going by vinyl, which we usually try to do. Next song is a song called Round Here Buzz, which I wrote with Mr. Jeff Hyde, who’s sitting here with me, and Luke Dick, who’s one of the oddest and weirdest and coolest people that I know; it comes out in his music too. This is a song that I kind of had the chorus to, I kind of had the idea of where I was going with the first verse and I sat down with Jeff and Luke and we changed it some and tweaked it some. The biggest thing for me on this one is the song needed to just be played. I felt like it had just been kind of written and had been boxed in a little with everyone saying it’s a hit song. The soul of the song, to me, is just us playing it. And it was the first chance I got to play electric on this album. Which I enjoyed, it was the Gretch that you had lost to me. I brought it back in the studio…put it through a silver tone and it had that kind of sound and I enjoyed playing it. I never do that, so to get that sound out was really cool to hear and to me, it just fed the energy, at least for my part, that I was getting to hear that and play that.
Jay: Yeah, that was a feel good. Remember when we were cuttin’ it, that was one of them that didn’t happen right away. We were struggling with trying to, I think maybe there was a demo, a pretty intricate demo of it. I’m trying to think…
Jeff Hyde: There was a thing on the demo that the guitar was doing that I was trying to replicate.
Jay: Yeah, yeah. It wasn’t us, you know. Eric said, you know what? We just need to play it. You led the way and again, it’s pretty damn sparse, it just lets the song speak.
Eric: Yeah because it’s a darker song. I mean, everybody, they fall into it sounds like a single and a hit, but if you listen to the lyric, if you really listen to what it is, it’s a pretty dark song about a guy. It’s kind of a lonely number. There’s something about the way we did it that does come out, I do get that. I get a little bit of that loneliness.
Jay: Yeah, it could’ve been pop-y, it could’ve been all kinds of opportunity for other melodies and whatever, but it didn’t need it. The space just makes you think, it makes you sort of take in the lyric more.
Eric: Here’s Round Here Buzz.
“Round Here Buzz “– 3:35 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Round Here Buzz. Here’s another song, the next song on the album, track two on Side B if you’re following along on your vinyl like I’ve got right here. This next song on the album, Kill A Word, is probably the smartest song I’ve ever been involved with. My involvement didn’t start ‘til a little later in the song. By the time I got it, Jeff Hyde and Luke Dick had already got this thing pretty much on the tracks. I just thought it was so smart that you took all these words, hate words, negative words, and you talked about killing them. It was just a unique way to turn a phrase, and just very smart. I was fired up about this one when I first heard, when you first brought it to me.
Jeff Hyde: I appreciate that man.
Eric: I am so shocked that came out of your head.
Jeff Hyde: Well I gotta give credit where credit’s due, but Luke had that started. We got together to write and he said I’ve got this thing started and he had the whole first verse written and turned around and started. He said, do you think that’s pretty cool? I said, yeah that’s outside the box man, that’s pretty neat. He turned around and started building the guitar track for it and I sat there and wrote the second verse. I said, I think I got something here. He said yeah, that’s pretty good. So we put that much down and sent it to Eric and thought it might be something he would like. Then Eric came in with the line share of the chorus written and we finished it out from there.
Eric: We brought in Rhiannon Giddens on this. I gotta credit my manager, John Peets, he had mentioned Rhiannon. What was the funny thing when we were talkin’ about this and somebody thought it was Rhianna?
Jay: I did!
Eric: It was Jay! He’s like, this is so cool, Rhianna’s gonna sing on this! I said yeah, he’s cool!
Jay: He was like yeah, I’ve got Rhianna right here on the street can we come up and try a vocal? I was like hell yeah bring her up man!
Eric: Anyway, John’s idea to bring her in and the coolest thing about it is her part on that second chorus. I can’t imagine the song without that now. I can’t. Because when I hear her jump out, it just gives a thing to it. She’s not really there and then she’s there and it’s just a really, really interesting part and really added to the song. To me, it’s an important song. As I hear it and I hear what’s going on not just in country music, but in music, there’s a few songs on this album, but specifically this one, that I think’s important, I think that’s important to be out there and for people to hear and attach to their lives. Here is Kill A Word…
“Kill A Word” – 3:20 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Kill A Word featuring Rhiannon Giddens. We should actually hear from her. Here’s one of her songs. It’s called Angel City.
“Angel City” – 3:53 – Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn
Eric: That was Rhiannon Giddens with Angel City”. The next track on the album is a song called Holdin’ My Own. It’s interesting; I was just looking at this. This is the first time we’ve had ten songs, what they call a proper, the proper album, in our entire career. It’s the first time we’ve ever arrived at ten. Even though we did cut a few more. Someday they may come out.
Jay: Yeah, we left some good ones out.
Craig: It’s like a Steely Dan record, man.
Eric: This song, Holdin’ My Own, there’s a lot, at least from my standpoint writing, in this record. My favorite albums are where you can listen to the artist and you can find out where they are in their life. You can feel the maturity. And I think, for the most part, our albums have showed that. They’ve showed where we are; what part of our career, what part of our life, and there’s a few songs on this album that you can see I’m not 25 anymore. I have kids, I have a family, and this is one of those songs. We’ve toured a lot; we’ve done this for ten years probably now. I’ve been away from home a lot; I’ve played a lot of places and this song really deals with that. It deals with being at home and being with the ones I love, my family, and I think we all can relate to that. But, there’s a part of this song that talks about those nights you miss the crowd, and not just the crowd, but you miss those places that you used to play; those little teeny, tiny places. I’ve had that. I’ve had that wake up at 3 AM and wanna go grab a guitar for whatever reason. So I love that that came out in the song. I love that we kept the part like it was. It’s kind of ethereal, weird and special with the “grab s six string, play what’s still turnin’ me on”, the “like that tight old time rock n roll”
Craig: That’s my favorite part because I got to play organ.
Eric: That’s right, Craig got to play organ.
Craig: Between me and you we made one pretty good organ player. You remember when Jay was workin’ the Lesley and I was playing the part.
Eric: The best part about this album is there’s a lot of piano and organ on this album, really for the first time for us as main parts, as identifiable parts. We refused to really take on, it’s just us, right?
Driver: We’re gonna do a Radiohead thing.
Eric: We looked around and decided who in the hell could learn this.
Craig: We’re gonna be Rodeohead, we’re all gonna play keyboards.
Jeff Cease: Or RadioEd.
Eric: So Jeff’s gonna be our guy now. He’s gonna learn to play all these parts.
Jeff Cease: I started. I learned Mistress Named Music. I went for the hardest one first. I was like, that sounds hard I’m going there.
Jay: I gotta say, I think what’s cool about this record lyrically is like you were saying, it’s an honest record saying this is where I am in my life and I think about, I’m not gonna mention names, but some of these other country dudes are your age or older singing about in the back of a pick-up truck with the girl and the party and jumpin’ in the river.
Eric: you might as well mention names now…that’s the most non-cryptic thing I’ve ever heard.
Jay: I’m just sayin’, I don’t know the guy, but I’m pretty sure he ain’t doing that ever.
Eric: Well it’s just not real; it’s not believable. I think that’s the thing with this album. I don’t know what will happen commercially with this album, but I kind of felt that way about the last one too. I feel like this one, though, for whatever reason is just real. I feel like we captured that and that’s a kudos to just being in the room playing it with the guys that you’re with all the time. I think that’s the best part of this.
Craig: There’s not a single song on this album that’s a list of reasons why you’re “so country”. It seems like all these songs, that’s what they are. It’s just a list of the way the lifestyle is supposed to go.
Eric: Because they think that’s supposed to sell.
Craig: Yeah, but this isn’t that at all. This record is about the stuff that’s going on in your life and there’s actual music going on there so…
Jay: It’s kind of like there’s a genre or whatever and they’re all sort of singing through the crowd, “hey, we’re all this thing”. I mean, you’re an artist and you’re singing about you. That to me, is the difference.
Eric: Let’s hear Holdin’ My Own, here it is.
“Holdin’ My Own” – 3:56 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Holdin’ My Own. And we’re still holdin’ our own here. We got two more tracks left on the Mr. Misunderstood album and I gotta set up this next one because I’ve been listening to music for what, I’m 38, so at least 34 years I’ve been actively listening to music and how in the hell this idea made it and nobody’s thought of it. Usually people are ripping Jeff Hyde, but here’s the thing. This is an inside story, but I’m gonna tell it anyway. Jeff Hyde will play me a song and it’ll be the greatest song in the world and it’ll be like a verse and chorus and be like hey man, we should work on it and like a week later, it’s the next single on whoever. This has happened to us eight or ten times now ‘cause he’s just unlucky, but this is the one time. It is a truly original idea, it is a great idea, and even when he played it for me he had the whole first verse and is that right, Jeff? You had the whole first thing and then he played me the idea of where it was going and I was blown away when he got to “I’ve been having a record year.” I could not believe that hadn’t been done.
Jeff Hyde: That was just one of those gifts. I feel like maybe once or twice a year, if that…
Eric: If that, I would say twice every three or four years you come up with something.
Jeff Hyde: That’s probably more accurate.
Craig: I’d cut it down less than that.
Jeff Hyde: I was sittin’ there…
Jay: In Oklahoma?
Eric: In the tree in Oklahoma?
Jeff Hyde: Yeah, in the tree in Oklahoma, and that idea came to me and I thought man, that’s pretty cool. I wrote this verse and I sent it to Eric. I said, do you think this is anything and he texted me back and said, don’t you write that with anybody else. It’s pretty interesting because for some reason, it doesn’t sound like it now, but at the time I thought I had sent Eric the chorus. I thought the verse that I had written was a chorus. But Eric sent me back a chorus that he had written and he had used what I thought was the chorus as the first verse, which makes a lot more sense now. I didn’t tell him this, but I wasn’t sure his chorus was right so I wrote another chorus and sent that back to him and that ended up being the bridge, or the first half of it ended up being the bridge.
Eric: Neither one of us thought the other was ever right and ended up with a song.
Jeff Hyde: We didn’t know if we were ever gonna get the song finished and the pieces, we put them together, and you know…
Jay: Ahh, that’s right, that second verse is so weird.
Jeff Hyde: The structure
Eric: It’s not even a verse, it’s like a, it’s not even a bridge either.
Jeff Hyde: There is no second verse to that song, it’s got a weird structure to it.
Craig: Thank god.
Eric: And it’s got one of my favorite albums, Songs In The Key Of Life, we got that in there. That’s one of those, a little nod to all the kids out there who have no fucking idea what that is.
Jeff Cease: Or John Lee Hooker. All the people who’ve heard that and have said ah you’ve got that George Thorogood song…dig deeper. I almost broke up with a girl because she thought Judas Priest did Johnnie B. Goode originally. I broke up with her on the spot.
Craig: And rightly so.
Jeff Cease: Yeah, that was a good call.
Eric: Well here is, speaking of talking to Jeff Hyde finally, thanks Jeff for doing this, here is one of the most original ideas, I wish it was mine, I’ve ever heard. Here’s Record Year. That’s a big hit too…
“Record Year” – 3:00 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That was Record Year, the next to last track off of Mr. Misunderstood. And we’ve arrived at the last song on the album, Three Year Old, and I wrote this with Casey Beathard and Monty Criswell. We talked earlier about a snapshot of your life and this is a song I could never see myself doing a couple few years ago, but I had a line in the song that actually happened to me. I took Boone, my oldest son, fishing for the first time and we had a Zebco and I’ve told this story, but I was teaching him how to throw it out there and I showed him and I throw it out and the bobber hits the water and you reel it in and when he reeled it in, I guess I didn’t explain that the thumb has to press to make the line go and he just took the rod and threw the rod in the water. And when I went over to get the rod, he threw the tackle box in the water. And I’ve told this story, I’m 38 years old, and I had no idea that a fishing pole would sink faster than a tackle box. I learned that that day. I also didn’t know, there was a line that didn’t make this song, we had a Beta fish at the time, and Boone fed the Beta fish the goldfish from a bad. Remember the little yellow goldfish? Well it killed the Beta fish. So I had a line in here, “and the goldfish from a bag will kill the one that’s in a bowl” I learned that from Boone, but I didn’t think people would get it. So inside information, that was a line that we changed to the mud line the “knock the rust right off your soul” but this is a song that it kind of shows me as a dad, but it’s also real. It’s a real song and I think it’s something that a lot of people out there can relate to and I’m proud of it. I appreciate Casey and Monty for bringing me in on it. And that sums up Mr. Misunderstood.
Jay: I think we did it in a cool, dark way. We could’ve been real cheesy…
Eric: Especially where everybody drops out on the “when you’re wrong you should just say so”. It’s such an intimate thing in that part right there. It’s just got a lot of again, soul, it’s got a lot of feel to it.
Craig: I think that’s one we didn’t cut it with a clicker or anything we just played it.
Eric: We did, we just played it. Well anyway, let’s hear it. Let’s hear Three Year Old.
“Three Year Old” – 3:47 – Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
Eric: That’s it. That’s Mr. Misunderstood, tracks one through then. Played, written and everything by the people that are around me right now. It was my most fun album for my part, to make. I usually hate the album making process, I’ve said many times. It’s not because I hate being in the studio. I hate knowing I have a really good song and then you gotta capture it. I’m not somebody that can sleep real well when I think we lost that song when I knew it was a good song and it happens. So that’s my angst with the studio, it’s always the most nerve-wracking thing is to make sure we got get it and it just didn’t have that feeling this time. I enjoyed every part of it, maybe because it happened so fast; it all happened within a month or so, everything, that I didn’t have time to maybe live with the songs long enough. Part of the recording was the writing and the creation continued to the studio.
Jay: The writing just bled right into the studio and we didn’t know we were going in. John called me that Friday, “Can we start Monday?” And it’s gonna be on the radio, it’ll be out in a month.
Craig: We were playing somewhere, we were giggin’ that weekend and on Saturday night you said “We got anything Monday? ‘Cause we’re gonna cut the record.”
Jay: I think that works. When you take your sort of…you can’t help but think forward and sometimes fear steps in, or just you know, thinking about what you’re gonna do. Sometimes it’s not the best thing and all of a sudden you’re there and you just do it. Well we kind of had an idea at the beginning, we discussed on the phone a little bit about let’s not be bomb-bastic. Let’s let this be, let’s let this be about players playing together, let it sound like what it sounds like.
Driver: And there was a time crunch too because we knew this was gonna come out the day of the CMAs and it also helped pressed and everything…
Eric: The time crunch helped. Sometimes that’ll work against you, to me it sharpened, at least for me, the focus was very sharp. And I felt we all kind of treated it that way in the studio. We just all were locked in, and that just doesn’t happen. We were so locked in I remember when it was over with I felt like we should just keep going because every day was that great.
Jay: Yeah, we had sort of just cracked it open. But yeah, I think that totally had something to do with it. Just the whole not really knowing what’s gonna happen, not having it worked out, worked to our advantage.
Driver: And also coming off this huge tour that we did we were so locked in with each other.
Eric: Well, back to Mr. Misunderstood, the greatest thing about that song, we did speed up we did slow down, but everybody sped up and slowed down together. Nobody was out. The bass wasn’t fast, we all just moved with it. And I think when you have people that can feel that and move like that, that’s pretty impressive. I didn’t know you were gonna speed up, slow down…
Craig: I didn’t know you we’re gonna do that…
Eric: Exactly. But we id it together is the most important thing.
Craig: That thing’s a living, breathing entity right there.
Jeff Hyde: We got each other’s backs.
Craig: And also, for the record, I’ve never offered to pay to recut a track before. So it was a first for both of us.
Eric: And that’s it. That’s Mr. Misunderstood; I think the record I’m maybe most proud of that we’ve done. I don’t do the thing where you try to say favorites and stuff. I love them all, but this one tended to capture something that I feel more than I’ve felt with other stuff. So, I thank the guys around me, I couldn’t do it without them. It was the most fun ive had in my life, working with them, and we hope you’ve enjoyed this.
Jeff Hyde: We thank you too, Eric.
Eric: Hey Jeff, thanks for coming.
Jay: One quick thing that was really fun about doing this was we were mixing it, we got a couple young guy interns and they’re like, “you mean this is gonna be out in three weeks?!” And I’m just pulling down the feder to the last thing, like, yeah isn’t that fucking cool, man? It’s like, that’s so old school.
Eric: That’s how it used to be, though.
Jay: I mean, it’s a year and a half to two years when I finish a record.
Eric: The one thing I do want to say is the reason we kind of did it this way, the hype part I wasn’t interested in. It used to be you put music out and you let the music be your driver. And I think with commercialism and everything else, marketing, it’s been reversed. And when you reach a certain status, the music is always the last thing. It’s all hype, it’s all interviews, it’s all press; all those other things, but the music. It just so turned me on when John and I talked about it, it just lit me up that no matter what, let’s let the music drive. I don’t care what happens from there. Let’s just let that be the driver. Again, it probably goes back to I think why the record sounds the way it does and I think why it has been the most fun that I’ve had because we really led the way that everybody should lead with the music.
Eric Church hosts Outsiders Radio monthly on SiriusXM's The Highway. Eric explores his personal music influences and plays his current favorites. Church will also play exclusive, never before heard music from his own archives.
Outsiders Radio will air on the last Friday of every month at 10:00 pm ET via satellite on The Highway channel 56 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App on smartphones and other connected devices, as well as online at siriusxm.com. The show will also be rebroadcast on Mondays at 12:00 am ET and Wednesdays at 11:00 pm ET. Stream SiriusXM FREE for 30 Days. No credit card required. See Offer Details at www.siriusxm.com/freetrial. New SiriusXM Internet Radio subscribers only.