Who wants to talk about Jamey Johnson's new double album, The Guitar Song?

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I'm really curious which tracks, specifically, other people don't like much. (I've named a few above -- none I outright dislike, but some I could've easily done without. Though, interestingly but maybe not suprisingly, I've seen writers on the 9513 country blog, and Caramanica in that NYT piece I linked to, name some of the ones I'm meh on as some of their favorites. Different strokes, obviously.)

xhuxk, Sunday, 26 September 2010 18:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

I like a lot of what he's doing, and agree that he can be a very skillful songwriter. Curious to hear though if anyone else agrees with me about the original songs on this album making him seem like a pretty unpleasant person, whiny and resentful yet self-aggrandizing and cocky at the same time, and whether or not this works to the album's benefit -- maybe it does! And the signifiers of innovation (noises, beards) outweigh the actual innovation itself (jamming, atypically dark moods?), but again that might not be a bad thing for the record either.

Anyway, the comparison to Kanye West is there to be made and I've just made it.

T Bone Streep (Cave17Matt), Thursday, 7 October 2010 04:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

unpleasant person, whiny and resentful yet self-aggrandizing and cocky

Definitely get this idea, to a certain extent, though maybe even more from interviews I've read than from his songs. Not really sure I entirely understand the distinction you're making between signifiers and actual innovation, though; those incidental noises have less precedent in country than the jamming, I'd say. Anyway, I actually re-opened this thread just to say that I've now heard his version of Meat Loaf's "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" on the Imus Radio Ranch II compilation, and I don't think I could've dreamed up a better self-parody myself. Haven't decided yet whether I actually like it or not.

xhuxk, Friday, 15 October 2010 17:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

Not sure how much I can add, but if I were cutting songs to make this a single album, I'd start with "Cover Your Eyes", which just seems endless and initially turned me off to the whole enterprise, and "Heaven Bound", which seems like blank space. Lotsa faves, though, starting with "Playing the Part", "That's How I Don't Love You" (Adult Contemporary chord progression), "By the Seat of Your Pants", "California Riots", most of the stuff on the White Side actually, and all the covers -- reminds me of listening to Rick Jackson's Country Hall of Fame on Sunday mornings. I LOVE "My Way To You" as a closer, how the instruments that have been so spaced out in the mix throughout the album coalesce into this massive power ballad at the end. The recording is great. I like hearing all the different instruments and occasionally missing stuff, like the beginning of "That's Why I Write Songs", which I swear I didn't hear the first 3 or 4 times through. I'll be surprised if this isn't up for an Album of the Year Grammy, and it'll probably marshal the O Brother and Speakerboxxx voting blocks to win. (It's probably not MY favorite album of the year, but it's up there and I'd root for it.)

And yeah, I agree the outlaw tag is a misnomer. (If, um, anybody actually said that upthread.) If anything, he's trying to write new entries for every subgenre of the country canon. "Front Porch Swing Afternoon" is in the middle of the pack for me, but it couldn't be any better written, and most country singers in the past 70 years could've had a hit with it. And there's plenty of other stuff like that on here. Maybe the most "outlaw" thing about the album is how often he undercuts the songs' hit potential by giving them just two verses and no bridge, or by ending with a jam. But still. It remains to be seen how much of this can hit on modern country radio, especially when the obvious "My Way To You" has apparently already stiffed, but it seems like more than half would fit in on some "classic hits" format. Which may just mean the whole thing's a nostalgic throwback, thereby making it even MORE assured to win a Grammy.

dr. phil, Saturday, 16 October 2010 02:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

I suppose I should add that I'm currently carrying the CD around in my backpack as a security blanket, much the way I did with Ke$ha for the first half of the year, which bodes well for its continuing significance in my life.

dr. phil, Saturday, 16 October 2010 02:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

Something I did for Rhapsody about the album's apparent (and unconscious) influences:


xhuxk, Saturday, 16 October 2010 03:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

nice piece, xhuxk. one more album i'd love to see in there is vern gosdin's chiseled in stone, which, in addition to the original "set 'em up joe," has the great "do you believe me now," which jamey regularly covers in his shows. though that still doesn't beat the waylon album that, as you note, jamey covered twice on that lonesome song; if you add "are you sure hank done it this way," another jamey concert staple, he's gone three songs deep on that one. when jamey loves an album, he really really loves an album.

fact checking cuz, Saturday, 16 October 2010 14:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

More discussion of The Guitar Song (partly by me) on Dave Moore's Tumblr:


xhuxk, Wednesday, 17 November 2010 16:19 (seven years ago) Permalink

Just got this last night. Still working through it but I love it.
I think the Waylon-ness got to me more on the last album than it does this time around. So far "That's Why I Write Songs" stood out, maybe just becuase it's so stripped back.
I get a nice Mike Cooley vibe off his voice in that one.

But I'm enjoying it so far.

That is the stench of tyranny (VegemiteGrrrl), Wednesday, 24 November 2010 18:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

i got this a couple of days ago. on the first listen, he doesn't seem to hit with the same immediacy as last time out. but that one was like wow! wtf? this one's more of a victory lap than anything else probably. odd thing is i like the 2nd disc better than the 1st so far. is this a common opinion (and no, i haven't read the thread ... yet)? also: wasn't at least some of the stuff last time out a little more uptempo? or was it that it maybe just came across that way cause he was in a "mean" mood at the time? or maybe that's just another delusion on my part? i dunno.

hipity-hopity muzik ftw! (Ioannis), Thursday, 25 November 2010 09:08 (seven years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

i'm falling hard right now for "thankful for the rain," a song i didn't notice much when i was playing the album over and over again in the fall. it's basically a reverse girl group lyric, a dude brooding over the lover who comes and goes at will, who has the light of love in her eyes tonight but will apparently not still love him tomorrow. and what's more, she expects him to be thankful for what he's getting. it feels almost unfinished, like he didn't quite get a chance to top off the lyrics before he recorded it, and that weirdly works with the song. not only can't he get his lover to settle down and stay with him, he can't even get his own song to settle down and stay.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 23 December 2010 21:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

Both West and Johnson gave glowering performances, brows furrowed with focus. Both tempered that intensity (and their reputations for being grouchy) with lyrics that made me laugh. Both are stronger craftsmen than performers, but the strength of their material made their performances shine. Both are considered renegades, yet appear to seek the affirmation of their fans and the respect of their heroes with an almost noble desperation.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 8 November 2011 16:54 (six years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

His next album,Livin' For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (produced by Buddy Cannon) due to be released October 16th :

Songwriter Cochran died in 2010


"Make the World Go Away" - Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss
"I Fall to Pieces" - Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard
"A Way to Survive" - Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill and Leon Russell
"Don't Touch Me" - Jamey Johnson and Emmylou Harris
"You Wouldn't Know Love" - Jamey Johnson and Ray Price
"I Don't Do Windows" - Jamey Johnson and Asleep at the Wheel
"She'll Be Back" - Jamey Johnson and Elvis Costello
"Would These Arms Be in Your Way" - Jamey Johnson
"The Eagle" - Jamey Johnson and George Strait
"A-11" - Jamey Johnson and Ronnie Dunn
"I'd Fight the World" - Jamey Johnson and Bobby Bare
"Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" - Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson
"This Ain't My First Rodeo" - Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack
"Love Makes a Fool of Us All" - Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson
"Everything But You" - Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell
"Livin' for a Song" - Jamey Johnson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 16:09 (five years ago) Permalink

vinyl release in September

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 16:10 (five years ago) Permalink

Poor guy must have writer's block.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 16:26 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I'm gonna pass on this one. I don't really go back to either of his last two records.

誤訳侮辱, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 17:05 (five years ago) Permalink

I'll listen to it if a physical copy falls into my lap, or if somebody offers to pay me to write about it. But otherwise, no great loss if I don't -- tribute album = holding pattern by definition. Call me when he decides to make a real album.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 17:49 (five years ago) Permalink

Plus, to be honest, all those guest stars make it just sound depressing.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 17:55 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh you cynics, don't you believe the press release explanation:

When it came time to take the next step in his recording career, he listened to his heart and decided to embark on a labor of love. In a daring career move that is consistent with Johnson's penchant for bucking conventional industry wisdom to create a unique path, he decided to devote his time and creative efforts to honoring his late friend and celebrate traditional country music.

"Shortly after he first met Jamey, Hank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer," says his widow, Suzi Cochran. "So for the two years he lived after that, Jamey would get off the road and pull his bus right up to the hospital, run up and see Hank and raise Hank's spirits. The last time Jamey saw Hank was the night before Hank died." Johnson joined Buddy Cannon and Billy Ray Cyrus at Cochran's bedside as they handed the guitar back and forth while singing Cochran's songs. Cochran died about six hours later.

It was Cochran's passing that inspired the idea for the tribute album. "We all met at the house one day and sang some songs," Johnson says. "Bobby Bare was introducing me to a bunch of songs that when I thought I heard it all, I hadn't heard anything yet. All the best stuff was the stuff I didn't know about yet.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 18:22 (five years ago) Permalink

No young or unexpected collaborators

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 1 August 2012 15:22 (five years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Threw this on last night for a long drive... I cracked up over Dog In a Yard this time around. It never occurred to me before, but he's talking about being a dog and driving that metaphor home on every line and then all of a sudden he comes in with 'When I make love to you' and I was like, "Wait WHAT? Oh."

I know it'a a LOT of songs. But after listening to it last night and this morning all the way through it really flows together well.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 8 November 2012 17:24 (five years ago) Permalink

Still have not seen him play live >:(

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 8 November 2012 17:25 (five years ago) Permalink

oh and I heard his 'Two Out of Three Ain't Bad'

I'm a sucker for that song, and for that arrangement --- I love it. I think he did a great job with it. Good cryin' into your beer song.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 8 November 2012 17:30 (five years ago) Permalink


his guitarist looks like a total tweaker

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 8 November 2012 17:38 (five years ago) Permalink

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