Jamey Johnson’s new album, That Lonesome Song, featuring the hit “In Color,” will be released August 5, 2008. “In Color,” the debut single and video, was inspired by a conversation with Bill Anderson and tells the very real story of a man looking back at his life through black and white photographs. “In Color” is currently number 38 on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck and R&R/Billboard charts.
Be sure to check out our interview with Jamey Johnson as he discusses the new album and working with Shaun Silva on the “In Color” video.
The former Marine has penned songs that have appeared on albums representing nearly 6 million units in combined sales. In addition to co-writing “Give It Away,” the George Strait #1 hit that earned both the CMA and ACM Song of the Year prize, Johnson co-wrote “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Ladies Love Country Boys,” both #1 hits for Trace Adkins.
But for Johnson, it’s never been solely about the songwriting. “Writing is not enough for me,” the Alabama native says. “I did not come here to just be a writer. I live to play. …I’m not here to take a stab at it, I am going to DO it.”
Watch Jamey Johnson discuss That Lonesome Song
And on August 5, you can find Johnson’s music in the record stores right where the closing track of the album says it is going to be – “Between Jennings and Jones.” PASTE Magazine proclaims, “Like Waylon he carefully cultivates that outlaw image, and like George he has the voice of a slumming angel. He’s made a superb album. And I’m not just saying that because he looks and sounds like the kind of guy you don’t want to piss off. This will be the best country record released in 2008. Hands down.”
Listen To Jamey Johnson That Lonesome Song
Jamey Johnson : That Lonesome Song cut by cut
2. “High Cost of Living” (Jamey Johnson / James Slater)
In a lot of ways, I felt like I was in prison at the point I wrote this, and I wanted
out. The only way I thought that I’d get out is that I’d get another record-label deal and somebody would put me back on the road. Which is where I felt like I belonged, in front of people singing the songs myself, instead of writing them and having them dawdle around until somebody likes one and decides to record it.
The song starts off with, “I was just a normal guy.” Well, every man in jail is just a normal guy. They all started off just like us. Most of those guys really got to a place where, like the song says, “I couldn’t even tell if I was alive.” They all took different things to make them feel like they were doing something—a lot of times, it’s drugs and alcohol.
Johnny Cash didn’t have to be in prison for murdering a guy in Reno to be able to relate to that guy. About the same way, I can relate to this character.
3. “Angel” (Jamey Johnson / Jeff Bates)
I wrote this with Jeff Bates, who has been through a few divorces now. He tells me it doesn’t ever get any easier.
By showing the two extremes of emotion, the song shows that it’s not necessarily either one that’s right. My daddy always said that if you’re down to two extremes, the truth is probably right down the middle. Quit letting everything swing so wild and just hold steady. You’re probably dealing with a good person, so try to make your choices and decisions based on the middle and not off to an extreme.
4. “Place Out on the Ocean” (Jamey Johnson)
I wrote that song in Key West, by myself. I didn’t want anyone else’s input.
It was my getaway. It was my time to leave the cave I’d been living in, get down there, coast around and get myself back in check.
The album starts off with two really dark songs and then immediately there’s a vacation. It’s like, “I’ve got to stop thinking this way. I’ve got to move on.” One song takes you into the pit and this song will lift you out of it. You get some confidence as you go along and, finally, a sense of humor.
The whole album was recorded right here in Nashville, except for this track, which was recorded in L.A. So the airplane sounds signify flying to L.A. and then coming back. It’s just my redneck logic to let you know that this one was “cut and pasted.”
5. “Mowin’ Down the Roses” (Jamey Johnson / Jeremy Popoff)
Jeremy is the lead guitar player and writer for the rock band Lit. They had a hit in
1999 with a song called “My Own Worst Enemy.” When we met, we realized that we were pretty much the same person, only in two different genres. Our lives were very similar and still are today. He’d been dropped from a record label and went through a divorce, just like me. He’s got a kid, and I’ve got a kid.
Anyway, we watched that movie Black Snake Moan together. There’s a scene where Samuel L. Jackson’s wife has just run off with his brother, and he’s packing all her stuff and getting rid of everything that reminds him of her. He cranks up the tractor, getting ready to bush hog the field to get it ready for spring. He drives the tractor around the front of the house, looks over and sees the rose garden she planted. He just tears through that thing. We just thought that was the funniest reaction anyone could ever have to a bed of roses. So the next day, we wrote “Mowin’ Down the Roses.”
I think it’s one of the funniest ones on there. Men and women alike, there ain’t nobody who won’t understand that song. Those feelings are real, man. It ain’t enough to put the stuff in the dumpster.
6. “The Door Is Always Open” (Dickey Lee / Bob McDill)
There’s something kind of comical about telling a girl who just got married, “If
you need me, I’m here. It don’t mean nothing. You can just drop by.” I first heard this on the Waylon Jennings album Dreaming My Dreams, which is my favorite record. So we recorded it in the same vein as Waylon did.
7. “Mary Go Round” (Jamey Johnson / Wyatt Beard)
There is a friend of mine back in Montgomery whose wife pretty much went
through this same thing after their divorce. She just felt like she needed to leave her moral principles behind, go loosen up, be single and enjoy it for awhile
After going through my own divorce, I started looking back on my life. What do I know about divorce? I know it does this to some people. So this is a song directly to that person, saying, “Look, I wish you would not do that. Don’t hurt yourself like that. It ain’t worth it. Build yourself up.”
8. “In Color” (Jamey Johnson / Lee Thomas Miller / James Otto)
The idea for this actually came up during a conversation about Bill Anderson. I
ran into Lee Miller one day. He said, “Man, I was over at Bill’s office the other day. I got to see him looking at old black-and-white pictures of himself early in his career.” Lee said, “I was just looking at pictures, but Bill was looking at a piece of his life, right there.” I said, “Wow, you should have seen them in color.” We stopped, kind of laughed, wrote that down and said, “Man, we’re going to have to write that.” The day we got together, James Otto came in with one of the best melodies I’ve ever heard on a song.
9. “The Last Cowboy” (Jamey Johnson / Teddy Gentry / Rob Hatch)
Teddy was in a little band back in the ‘80s. I think they got a record deal. They
had a couple of songs out. Seriously, Alabama was the first concert I ever saw. And the first book I ever read was an Alabama songbook. Teddy and I have become such good friends, and we’ve written more than an album’s worth of songs together.
I think the message of this is in the last line of the song, “Does everything good have to change until the last cowboy is gone?” It kind of says, “Hey, pay attention to what’s going on around you, because a style of music is slowly dying away.” The world is full of young people today who never experienced the outlaw era, don’t know anything about The Dukes of Hazard or never heard Waylon Jennings. And that’s what fed a lot of people like me. It was soul-seeking music. Those songs were poetry – Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton – you could crawl up inside those songs and examine yourself in one. Those people lived and breathed songs, and we need to reach people today the way they did.
10. “That Lonesome Song” (Jamey Johnson / Wayd Battle / Kendall Marvel)
Waylon Jennings was such an influence over my life and my songwriting. I never
got to meet him. But if I had to guess, I’d say he probably felt the same way about the music business as I do. Which is, when you hire somebody to do a job, you get out of the way and let them do it. You don’t sign people who aren’t artists. Quit signing karaoke singers and start signing people who really do have a message to deliver to the people. Go do some living and go find out where these people who buy your records are.
So Waylon is the sound of this record, and especially this track. To me, the song itself is about enlightenment. It’s about that moment of clarity where you finally figure it out. That morning after that last drunk you had, you’re waking up in a truck with the sun just beaming on your face and frying your body, and you finally get up and go, “Why am I doing this?” Then that second verse comes in and tells you all about it.
11. “Dreaming My Dreams” (Allen Reynolds)
We had everything cranked up so loud when we recorded this that I could actually
hear my thumb brushing the strings. We were as locked in as we could get on this particular song. It had to be that way for me. It had to be intense. It had to be utterly quiet. Those strings on that acoustic guitar had been there for six months then, and they’re still on there today. Those things are rusty.
12. “Women” (Jamey Johnson / Jim Brown)
It’s kind of funny, because everything you could say about women in there,
women could also say about men. You know, it doesn’t exactly say that men are the greatest, either. It says, “I’ve made a sad one laugh. I’ve made a good one cry. I’ve made one scream my name.” I’ve treated women like this. No wonder they’re crazy. “I just can’t seem to make one stay.” Well, no wonder.
13. “Stars in Alabama” (Jamey Johnson / Teddy Gentry)
This was the first song I’d ever written with Teddy Gentry. My mama was just the
biggest Alabama fan there was. So when we sat down to write the song, the first thing that came to mind was my mama. That’s why the song starts off like that. My mama’s always been my safety net. When I get up to where I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, and I need somebody, she’ll bring me back to earth real quick.
When we were out there on the road, people used to ask, “How’s the road treating you?” My response always was, “the same as it treats everybody else. No better. No worse.” It’s great in ways. In some respects, it’s everything you dreamed it would be.
14. “Between Jennings and Jones” (Jamey Johnson / Buddy Cannon / Blake Harris)
Blake Harris is an old college buddy of mine. When “The Dollar” was out, he
went to the store to find the record. He said, “It was right there between Jennings and Jones.” So he gave us the title. Me and Buddy went in a
nd wrote the song one day. Buddy wanted it to be nothing but autobiographical. So there are parts on there that talk about getting a record deal and them shelving my songs. It’s not a slam at anybody, I don’t think. It’s just what happened. So here I am, “with a sound of my own, somewhere between Jennings and Jones.”
Where has this been? Jamey Johnson’s “That Lonesome Song” is one of the best–you can’t just listen to one track-they all go together-it is one complete listening experience!! I love it! It has been in my car’s cd player for 2 months!! Can’t get enough of Jamey Johnson! – said Lisa on Feb 22, 2009