Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.
A lot of people ask me about the story behind “Monday Morning Church.” Did I lose someone close to me? Did I just make it up? Stick around and find out.
Back in 1999, I was in the final semester of getting my Master’s Degree in Business at Arkansas State University.
At that point, I was writing songs at night and on weekends.
I went back home to Batesville, Arkansas, one weekend to hang out with the folks. My mom, an English teacher, showed me a poem she had written as an example to her students.
The poem was about a teacher’s day, and it had a line that read, “Trudging wearily through the parking lot, as empty as a Monday-morning church.”
When I saw that line, it about blew the top of my head off! I thought it was a brilliant image. Immediately, I told her I was gonna use it.
Back at school, I started working on the lyric (I don’t write melodies). I remember sitting in my little off-campus apartment at my computer and kicking that title around. With an image like “empty as a Monday morning church,” I knew it had to be something serious.
I settled on the idea of a man who had lost his wife and was having a crisis of faith. The first lines of the song came first:
“You left your Bible on the dresser, so I put it in the drawer. ‘Cuz I can’t seem to talk to God without yelling anymore.”
I remember really liking those lines, even though I knew they might be too in-your-face. As it turns out, they seem to be most peoples’ favorite part of the song, so what do I know?
I’m not sure how long it took me to write the first draft of the lyric- probably a few hours over the next couple of days.
The lyric sat around for a few years…
…with occasional false starts by various cowriters. I eventually moved to Little Rock and met Erin Enderlin, who was a Conway native going to school outside of Nashville.
I rewrote the 2nd verse and showed it to Erin during a cowrite her parents’ place over Christmas break. Thankfully, she liked it. A few days later, she played the melody for me. She’s a great writer.
Erin took our song back to Nashville…
…and played it for her publisher, a guy named Jeff Carlton. He demoed the song I believe in 2003, which was after I had finally made the move to Nashville myself.
Even though I had originally written the lyric with a male artist in mind, Erin sang the demo from a woman’s point of view, and Jeff played it for Keith Stegall, a producer in town. Keith loved it, thank goodness.
In August of 2003, Keith put “Monday Morning Church” on hold for Lee Ann Womack.
It was my first hold.
However, he didn’t end up working on that Lee Ann album, and the song came off hold. Then he put it on hold for Terri Clark. It stayed on hold for her over Christmas.
Word was, she was going into the studio in early March of 2004. On the night of my two-year anniversary of moving to Nashville, Erin called with good news and bad news. The bad news was that Terri didn’t cut our song. The good news was that Alan Jackson had put it on hold.
Well, the rest of that month was pins and needles. Jeff called me with the news that Alan had cut “Monday Morning Church” in late March. It was an unbelievable feeling! Erin and I both finally had our first cuts.
And it only took five years and two states to go from an idea to a record.
Sept. 22: KNOW THE ROW with CHAD GREEN
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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter
Brent Baxter Music: http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com
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