Story Behind the Song: Joanna Cotten, ‘Funkabilly’
Long before Joanna Cotten rose to prominence as Eric Church's backup singer-turned-duet partner on his 2019 Double Down Tour, she was a struggling solo artist who was signed to Warner Bros., but was finding it difficult to actually get her music out into the world. It was the mid-2000s, and Cotten's soulful, bluesy spin on country wasn't getting much traction at radio, and she ultimately walked away from the label in 2007.
One day during her time at Warner, when Cotten was particularly frustrated by the industry's lack of understanding of who she was as an artist, she decided to sit down and write a song that spelled it out for them. The result was "Funkabilly." Read on to learn the story behind the song, as told by Cotten herself.
I had a writing team, Daryl Burgess and Angie Russell, and we wrote every week. We really had no agenda; we just wrote what we felt. I was really frustrated with my process at Warner, and kept being told, "Oh, this is gonna be released," and then we'd go in and cut more songs.
I was just frustrated, and talking to my co-writer one day, and I said, "You know, I just don't know if this'll see the light of day." And he said, "Well, they don't know what to do with funkabilly."
I thought, "Whoa, that's pretty cool!" You know, I just laughed it off, and we ended up writing [another] song. Then I said, "Maybe we need to write "Funkabilly," and tell them exactly what I am. And why I am."
So that's what we did. I said, "I think it would be really cool to have a funk bass core of that song, with the banjos and everything on top." So creatively speaking, that's how we went about it in the studio.
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