Michael Phelps Is Not Eric Church’s “Michael”

The Unreleased Cut Hits Close to Home for Olympian

I think Michael Phelps must love Eric Church about as much as loves his gold medals.

Because when the U.S. Olympic swimmer told The New York Times that he has Church on the prerace playlist on his phone — along with a mix of songs from Eminem and Young Jeezy — he also happened to mention an old, unreleased song of Church’s. One that only a genuine, longtime fan would know.

It’s one Church wrote with his brother Brandon and frequent collaborator Jeremy Spillman.

In 2008, Church told American Songwriter magazine it’s probably the greatest song he has ever written.

“It’s about an alcoholic, a guy that stands up and says, ‘Hey, my name is Michael,'” Church said, as if the man in the song was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. “He talks about his wife and kids, Little League and stuff. ‘That’s what’s going on in my life without me,’ he sings, and that’s where the hook came from. It was such a heavy song. The disappointment of this record was not having that song on it. But I couldn’t put it anywhere on the record and recover.”

And while Phelps is a fan of Church’s music, the athlete says that particular song is absolutely not on his prerace playlist.

Because after his DUI arrest in 2014 and the trip to rehab that followed, he knows just how close he came to being like the character in Church’s “Michael.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.