On Aug. 10, Cody Johnson fans will get a deeper look than ever at the highs and lows that ultimately led to his current status as a country music hitmaker (with singles including “On My Way To You”), with the theatrical release of the documentary Dear Rodeo: The Cody Johnson Story.
Initially, Johnson had his sights set on a career as a professional bull rider, until he realized that his talents were ultimately geared more toward music than bull riding. He delves into the struggle and heartache that went into making that decision to walk away from the sport in his song “Dear Rodeo,” which later was revamped into a collaboration with Reba McEntire.
“I was going to ride bulls, I wanted to be a professional rodeo cowboy and that didn’t work out,” Johnson told Audacy’s Rob + Holly. “The failure that I felt…for a little while, defined me.”
He hopes others will be able to relate to his own story of making a career pivot to find success. “When we started looking at other people’s lives and [how the ‘Dear Rodeo’ story] applied to them–having the opportunity to crawl under the sheets and cry about life, or stand up and kind of take a new beginning, take a new perspective–there’s a lot of good stories that I feel are going to inspire people.
“The movie is not about me…I think it’s about being reborn, it’s about having a rebirth and inspiring people,” he added. “After a year like 2020, I feel like people need to remember that we, as Americans, don’t have to let failure define us. We can always stand back up and beat our chests a little bit. We’re going to be OK.”
In addition to the documentary, Johnson is also set to release a double album later this year, including an 18-song tracklist.
“It just kind of happened, I had too many good songs,” Johnson said of the extended project. “I feel like all of my music should have some kind of rhythm or groove so you can dance to it.”