Cody Johnson recently headlined two concerts at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on June 18 and 19, playing both nights to packed crowds of die-hard "CoJo" fans, leading them through his numerous Texas radio hits, as well as "On My Way To You," which reached No. 11 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2019. His Ryman shows testified to his influences, including a staunch love of classic country sounds popularized by the likes of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr., and George Strait, with a quality of showmanship reminiscent of Garth Brooks. Johnson's 2019 major label debut, Ain't Nothing To It, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
As is tradition with a Cody Johnson show, he offered tributes to military members and veterans, as well as to first responders. During his Saturday evening show, leading into his performance of "Doubt Me Now," the Texas native also took Hollywood to task with a lengthy speech.
"What I’m tired of is people in Hollywood thinking their opinion matters because they have a blue check next to their name on Twitter," he said, as the crowd roared approval. "I’m gonna say this one time: I don’t care if you’re left, I don’t care if you’re right, I don’t care whether you are black, brown, or white. The only colors that matter right here are the United States--red, white and blue.
“You may not have liked the last president. You may not like this president. All I’m gonna tell you is this: Men and women of all shapes and sizes, of all colors, of all backgrounds, get up everyday. They put on a police officer’s uniform or a firefighter’s uniform. They go sit in a sandbox in Iraq or Afghanistan for the freedom to be here today. And let me just say this: Everybody that wants to run their mouth about this country online, let me tell you this. I got friends that didn’t come home. I got friends that came home, and they never came home in their minds, for you to have the freedom to have an opinion in the first place.”
He also had some pretty simple advice for audience members who were tired of seeing negativity in the news and media: turn off the television.
“I got a challenge for you: When you turn on three different news stations, and all they want to preach is negativity. All they want to tell you is how this country’s going: ‘be fearful,’ ‘you should be scared,’ ‘don’t go outside.’ Turn the news station off. When you’ve got people in your life that want to run down the United States of America, turn ’em off. You will not miss ’em, I promise.”
Leading up to the release of his double album, Johnson is releasing two new tracks each month. During his Ryman shows, he offered up previews of a few of those tracks, including "Til You Can't/Longer Than She Did." One of the show's most emotional moments also came when he offered up the hymn "How Great Thou Art," telling the audience he had always wanted to do a series of gospel songs at the Ryman. He concluded his Saturday evening performance with a solo rendition of "Dear Rodeo," his 2020 hit which he re-recorded as a duet with country legend Reba McEntire. Sadly, there was no surprise appearance from the country music queen, though Johnson more than held his own to a crowd of loudly approving, boot-stomping fans.