Jamey Johnson is reaping the rewards of his hit album, That Lonesome Song, as more and more fans show up at his concerts to hear live versions of the songs they’ve grown to love. Those tour stops are beginning to move beyond mere performances and into major events as his followers sing along to favorites such as “In Color” and “High Cost of Living.”
At a recent show in Memphis, CMT Insider talked to Johnson about the importance of connecting with his audiences both onstage and off.
“I get to go out and meet the people who buy our records, firsthand, every night,” he said. “Nothing can replace that. When your whole goal is to reach those people in the first place, there’s such a degree of satisfaction that comes from actually shaking the hand of somebody who bought your album and listening to what they’ve waited so long to tell you.”
He admits that he, too, gets wrapped up in his live performances.
“When you’re performing something live, you tend to relive it every single time, especially when you wrote it,” he explained. “My mind just goes back to that writing room that I sat in with what ever co-writer I was with and the discussions we had back and forth, talking about the different ins and outs of what we wanted to accomplish with this song. But to get to perform that live every night takes you to a very real place.”
Johnson says audiences can sense the emotional attachment a singer has to a song they’ve written.
“We got to do a week’s worth of shows with Willie Nelson,” he said. “And I could see it on his face, man, the songs that he really put his heart and soul into. You don’t have to wonder what the intention was. It’s written right across his face. You don’t get that listening to an album. You get that at the live shows. But when you go home, you get to put on the album and hear it again after you see the show. You can see the look on his face when you hear that song come across again.”
Johnson’s career is busier than ever, but that’s fine with him.
“The dangling carrot seems to keep moving, so I hope I can chase it a little bit farther before I catch it,” he laughed. “Because I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve done everything I came here to do. I want to keep moving forward … and just keep living life.”