When Eric Church gifted fans his surprise album back in November –with zero advance warning whatsoever – he did it so they could discover Mr. Misunderstood with the same joy he sings about on songs like “Record Year,” the video for which premiered today. Church also didn’t want any critical pre-chatter to influence that process, and, similarly, he’s kept the clips that accompany the tracks simple and consistent: just like on the title song’s video, the one for “Record Year” puts an emphasis on the band, playing in the same brick room adorned with the chalkboard image from the LP’s artwork and also starring McKinley James, the Mr. Misunderstood kid.
Here, the video begins with Church doling out vinyl – the lifeblood the young teen depicted by James will need as he grows, weathers both heartbreak and success and develops into a man, or, if you let the imagination wander a bit, the next Eric Church. In the song, Church name checks everyone from Willie Nelson to John Lee Hooker, a trend of calling out other artists that continues through the entire LP, serving as both a timeline of his own influences and a roadmap for those who want to use Mr. Misunderstood as a key to unearthing new music, well beyond The Chief himself.
There’s also a serious nod to music geeks everywhere – eventually James stacks the records given to him by Church onto a metal bar, forming a 3-D waveform of the song itself, more proof that “Record Year” is not just about 365 days, but a lifetime of devouring and digesting music that lead to the artist he came to be.