Artist Insight Report: Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood”

If you want your songs to get recorded by major artists, you need to understand those artists.

Understanding what an artist has recorded before can help you predict what he or she might record in the future. So, today, I decided to dive into Eric Church’s new album, “Mr. Misunderstood.” Here’s what I found, track-by-track.  (Note: “PUL’D” is a reference from my workbook “Cut/able: Lessons in Market-Smart Songwriting.” It means “Positive-Uptempo-Love/Depth.”  “Neighborhood” is also a reference from “Cut/able.”  Check out the workbook HERE.)  POV is “Point Of View.)

Artist: Eric Church

Album: Mr. Misunderstood

Producer: Jay Joyce

Label: EMI Records Nashville

“Mr. Misunderstood”

Writers: Eric Church, Casey Beathard

POV (Point of view): You/me

Timeframe: Present tense singing to “Mr. Misunderstood,” past tense about himself.

PUL’D: Positive, Ballad to Midtempo, Depth

Neighborhood: Rocker / indie. Fits his rocker image. Preaching to his choir: outsiders, musicians.

Subject: Music, life.

Notes: Sing-a-long “na-nas.” No repeating chorus, just the title. Lots of imagery. Speaks to the outsiders and musicians- clearly makes himself one of them.


“Mistress Named Music”

Writers: Eric Church, Casey Beathard

POV: I/me

Timeframe: Past

PUL’D: Positive, Mid-ballad, Depth/Life

Neighborhood: Bad boy. Alcohol & drug references. Rocker.

Subject: Music, Musician

Notes: Strong imagery, blues-sound, big guitar solo/classic rock long outro, big choir on intro


“Chattanooga Lucy”

Writers: Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell

POV: You/me

Timeframe: Present

PUL’D: Positive, Uptempo blues rock, Love

Neighborhood: Rocker, rough side of the tracks, edgy

Subject: Music, girl

Notes: Blues, lots of imagery, soul falsetto, female gang BGVs

“Mixed Drinks About Feelings”

Writers: Eric Church


Timeframe: Present

PUL’D: Sad, Ballad, Lost love

Neighborhood: Drinkers

Subject: Lost love, drinking

Notes: Alcohol references, female lead (smoky voice) on 2nd verse, blues/soul


“Knives Of New Orleans”

Writers: Eric Church, Travis Meadows, Jeremy Spillman


Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Negative, mid-uptempo, depth/life

Neighborhood: Tough guy, dark side of life

Subject: Murder about money

Notes: Good imagery, big driving feel, storytelling- takes on a character, big classic rock Bob Seger Springsteen epic


“‘Round Here Buzz”

Writers: Eric Church, Luke Dick, Jeff Hyde

POV: You/me

Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Negative, midtempo, love

Neighborhood: Average Joe

Subject: You’re gone, so I’m hanging around our hometown drinking.

Notes: Good imagery, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus


“Kill A Word”

Writers: Eric Church, Luck Dick, Jeff Hyde


Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Positive, midtempo, depth

Neighborhood: Tough guy with a heart of gold

Subject: Singer’s fed up with the negative junk in the world.

Notes: Tough, but positive. Violent language, but wants to make the world a better place. Dark.


“Holdin’ My Own”

Writers: Eric Church


Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Positive, Midtempo, Depth/Love

Neighborhood: Rebel, but laid back.

Subject: Fatherhood, family, music, settling down.

Notes: Biographical (“troubadours”), mid-acoustic kinda beach/bouncy.


“Record Year”

Writers: Eric Church, Jeff Hyde

POV: Me/You

Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Bittersweet, midtempo, lost love

Neighborhood: Average Joe

Subject: Music, lost love

Notes: Name drops artists from several genres: country, rock, R&B, soul. Ends up thanking the girl for leaving because it helped him rediscover all this great music. Starts off sad, ends up feeling positive.


“Three Year Old”

Writers: Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell


Timeframe: Now

PUL’D: Positive, Mid-ballad, Depth

Neighborhood: Average Joe, good guy, but not perfect

Subject: Fatherhood

Notes: Great images, lessons to a dad from his kid. Lighthearted, but deep. Jesus reference.


The big theme is music- how it has and continues to affect Eric’s life. It’s the constant drumbeat in the background of these songs and the thread that holds the record together. Classic blues and rock sounds. He’s dark, an outsider… but he has a good heart. He lives wild, but is maturing. Church wrote on every song and has a small circle of cowriters on this record, mainly Casey Beathard, Jeff Hyde, and Luke Dick. Hyde has the most cuts. Eric tends to write all of his own stuff, so there’s little chance of an outside cut.  Path to a cut: work your way into cowrites with his cowriters, prove yourself and earn your way into the room with Eric.

What do you think? What insights would you like to add?  Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to see more Artist Insight Reports from Man vs. Row in the future? Let me know in the comments!

Pro songwriters know they need to study artists and the market to have their best chance at writing songs that get cut.  And if YOU want to become a pro, you need to think like a pro, too. In my FREE e-book, “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” I not only reveal several of the mindsets which separate the pro songwriter from the amateur, but also…

  1. How to get on a music publisher’s radar
  2. How the pros know who is looking for songs
  3. Six simple ways to make your songs more commercial
  4. And more!

To get your FREE, INSTANT download of “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” just click on the image below, or CLICK HERE!

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God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,


Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

19 thoughts on “Artist Insight Report: Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood””

  1. Nice analysis. I was thinking before reading it that if you want a cut you’re gonna have to write with Eric and it helps a lot if you’re Casey Beathard.

    I think the analysis is a great idea.

    It might be even more valuable if you analyze a few artists who record a lot of outside songs.

    1. Yep, I’m planning on it! If people want it, that is… But I figure it’s valuable to include artists like Eric Church- a lot of people may want cuts on him without realizing he writes most of his own stuff.

  2. Awesome post Brent. I made/make lists similar to this on songs I enjoy or think the lyrics are deep. But I have done it to see who the writers are so I can learn their stories. That is how I originally “found” you from searching Monday Morning Church. 🙂

    Travis Meadows is amazing I remember he said that he got the text to write with Eric Church and he didn’t believe it. I believe he said the text just said “Church 10am” with the address.

    Great job Brent thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to post these things!

  3. “Three Year Old” is my favorite song on this album. You can close your eyes and see it. I listen to this cd everyday and think it’s fantastic.

  4. Good information

    The only thing is folks need to realize you are not going to be able to work your way into a co write with these folks easily if at all if you are not a published writer in Nashville.

    Just the other day when asked if he would write with an outsider, Shane McAnally said, “No because they were not willing to move here and suffer with the rest of us.”

    I can agree in part and also feel that is the sentiment for most pro writers in Nashville.

    I have been lucky to write with a few and have a #1 in Australia with a pro in Nashville but it takes perseverance, hard work, bringing great ideas, showing up ready to work…humbleness.

    You have to be there. I have not seen one song pitched to publisher get a major cut.
    These writer contacts don’t come easy for pro writers in Nashville and they are few and far between for someone outside, even if you are travelling there often.

    I’m trying to place a proper light on it all. What you offer here is important because if you don’t have the tools then you will not make it past day 1 if you ever get the chance to be in a room with a successful Nashville writer.



    1. Great points, Lance. It’s easy to say, “Get in the room with Eric’s cowriters.” It’s NOT easy to make that happen.

      1. Yes is difficult to get in those rooms but regardless first and foremost is the preparedness. So learning and applying is critical so you don’t blow the chance if it ever comes. 🙂

    2. I think what the analysis did was shine a light on looking at the process of getting a cut with open eyes.

      Cuts are insanely difficult to get in today’s market.

      In the case of Eric Church you could tell from studying his past albums that your chances are near zero unless you join the inner circle and that’s a really small circle.

      So the analysis is really valuable to writers learning the craft in my opinion.

      And Lance that’s one hell of a song you wrote for Benn Gunn.

      We really need more testosterone in the Australian country charts.

  5. Yets, I enjoyed this article! Thank you!
    So, Im not sure how…but I shall try hard to get a co-write with the co-writers. The LORD will find a way should it be His will.


  6. I love this post. I think you should do more of these. It helps to show how to break an artist down, so to say, and feel what they are really writing about

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