Cody Johnson Isn’t Chasing Fame, Money and Glory, He Wants Fans to Feel the Music
Cody Johnson’s new double album has been available for more than a week and the Texas-based country star hasn’t really checked in on the buzz the music is generating.
He hasn’t read reviews of the album or checked up on the comments left by fans or even gone online.
You’d be wondering what he’s been doing the entire time. Well, he’s been busy buying cows.
“I checked out,” Johnson told PEOPLE magazine in an exclusive interview. “Literally, I’m calling you in my truck right now because I just left my buddy’s house [after] paying for some roping steers.”
Cody shared that being disconnected is critical to him as a prolific artist and that he gets inspired when he’s grounded. This year has been an especially busy one for the artist as he recently released his feature-length documentary “Dear Rodeo: The Cody Johnson Story”, the double album “Human” and is ready to release a Christmas album – “A Cody Johnson Christmas” out Nov. 19 – all in less than six months.
His single “Til You Can’t” is doing well at radio.
“I just think it’s a balance,” Johnson described the tightrope between his personal and professional life. “I’ve got 6-year-old and 4-year-old little girls, and I’m trying to be not just somebody who’s out trying to get rich or famous. I’m trying to be a good leader to influence the people around me. I want to be better. And the things that make me better are working on my ranch and just doing the normal things.”
Cody Johnson Shares How He Went From Live Shows to Recording an Entire Album during Lockdown
When the pandemic hit, it changed a lot of plans for many people. For Cody Johnson, it forced him off the road and into the recording booth. But he wasn’t looking for radio-friendly songs that would chart, he was looking for songs that would speak to him and make him feel things.
But before the lockdown, a documentary, double album, and a Christmas album, was not on his list of things to do in such quick succession. And while the singer acknowledged that he’s grateful for not being stressed financially, he decided to keep busy by pivoting from his stage plans to spending his days in the recording studio.
He recalled how he sat down with his producer Trent Willmon and publisher Scott Gunner and asked them: “OK, what are we going to record?”
From the 18 songs on the project, he earned co-writing credits on four tracks and others were credited to Willie Nelson and Vince Gill, heavy-hitting songwriters including Travis Meadows, Carson Chamberlain, Ben Hayslip, Harlan Howard, Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas, and fellow artists Chris Janson and Matt Stell.
With his record label executives working from home, he had more creative freedom working on the current project.
“We weren’t chasing radio,” Johnson said. “We weren’t chasing playlists. We weren’t chasing charts. We just wanted the songs that moved me that made me feel like I could record it and move you. Those are the kinds of things you can do when you have the freedom. Then when you have the time, you can’t ignore it because it’s just a godsend.”
Speaking on the ballad “Human” and what inspired him to choose it as a title track, he called it “the most impactful track on the entire album”. He continued: “Because it spoke more about me and what’s going on inside my head and inside my heart and soul than any song I’ve ever heard. After 2020, I think a lesson we can all learn is no matter what your income, no matter what race, no matter what walk of life you come from, we all have the struggles that remind us that we’re just human.”
When Johnson chose the songs that will feature on the album, he did it because of the emotions contained in each of the songs. The country singer didn’t want to perform catchy songs, he wanted to take his fans on a rollercoaster ride made up of different emotions.
“I want to bring you down, build you back up, make you happy, make you sad, make you laugh and just make you feel things,” Johnson said. “To me, that’s what country music should be. Every one of these songs went through such a process that there’s no way they would have remained on this record if they weren’t worth their salt.”
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