Single Review: Eric Church, “Record Year”

“Record Year”
Eric Church

Written by Eric Church and Jeff Hyde

“Record Year” is cleverly written, intertwining turns of phrase with musical references that will satisfy everyone from the casual country fan (Red Headed Stranger) to the scholarly one (New Grass Revival.)

But what makes it a great song and a great record is that its cleverness is in service to its heartfelt sincerity. This is what Church gets right that so many other artists and writers get wrong. The feeling comes first, and its a palpable one of heartbreak and loss. The concept of using music to deal with that heartbreak is built around the feeling, and that makes all of the difference.

Even when he gets ambitious with the wordplay – I particularly enjoyed “I’m counting on a needle to save me” – the conceit doesn’t overwhelm the raw emotions being expressed. This is a smart guy using his wit to describe a very real heartache.

“Record Year” casts music as salvation, silver lining, and sanity all in one. It is easily among the strongest singles of 2016.

Grade: A



  1. I think this review gets at it- THIS is how you write a “song about songs” without it just deteriorating into empty name-dropping. I’ve been listening to this whole album for 6 months and still love it.

  2. Very good single. There are several bluegrass singles I’ve liked better but this song is as good as it gets from major label Nashville, a solid B+

  3. Mike J,
    I don’t understand how “Record Year” and “Speed Trap Town” are particularly similar, let alone deserving of “rinse and repeat.” They might be similar on a very base level, but they’re very different songs.

  4. You absolutely nailed what makes this a stellar song as opposed to merely a good one.

    On paper, the lyricism looks rather loquacious and even humorous. And especially with the way many pop songs being marketed as country songs have a tendency to cram a bunch of words into a couplet of lines or a chorus in a way that breaks the meter, it is quite likely in the hands of another interpreter, the end result would sound clumsy and emotionally aloof.

    So, it is absolutely impressive how Church can take a set of lyrics replete with truly humorous twists (“I’m counting on a needle to save me…”, “If you come back, I owe you a beer for my record year…”) and an air of intellect…………..and seamlessly come across as intimately melancholic with a vocal performance from Church that’s in equal parts wistful, hurt, exasperated and nonetheless also maintaining a wide-eyed sense of wonder as to what he’s rediscovered in his listening experiences.


    The chorus reminds me of a less-produced version of Mark Wills’ cult classic “19 Somethin'”, which undoubtedly helps make this stand out as radio-friendly alongside a solid vocal melody line. Even the guitar loop that drives the opening two verses doesn’t sound out of place or diminish the listening experience because its akin to a broken record of a memory haunting the narrator. All around, there’s not a single weak link here and this is the best song on mainstream country radio at the moment.

    I’m thinking a Strong 8 to Light 9 out of 10 for this.

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