Jamey Johnson – “In Color”

Brady Vercher | March 17th, 2008

Jamey Johnson Songwriters: Jamey Johnson, Lee Miller, and James Otto

Jamey Johnson got the raw end of the deal in the Sony-BMG merger and found himself releasing his sophmore effort digitally last year without the support of a major label. That Lonesome Song ended up in the sixth slot on our list of the best albums of 2007 and a couple of songs made our best songs of 2007 list, including “In Color,” which came in at fifteen. Mercury must have been watching the talented singer/songwriter and signed him to a deal this year and now “In Color” is being released as the first single.

The song centers around a grandfather detailing the events surrounding old black and white photographs to his grandson and basically wraps a couple of cliche phrases together (“You had to be there” and “A picture is worth a thousand words”), but states them in a unique and refreshing way, with the title phrase serving as a double entendre of sorts.

Using photographs as a way to describe a series of events along the timeline of a person’s life isn’t a new songwriting technique, but it takes a talented songwriter to fill each verse with such vivid and emotive imagery without becoming overwrought. As an example, the grandfather describes WWII from a common soldier’s view without ever having to name it:

This one here was taken overseas
In the middle of hell in 1943, it was winter time
You can almost see my breath
That was my tailgunner, Ol’ Johnny McGee
A high school teacher from New Orleans
And he had my back, right through the day we left

In one verse, Johnson is able to capture the essence of the war, the people involved, and the relationship and camaraderie between those people. In the next verse, when the grandfather starts filling in the colors of the black and white photograph of his wedding photo, he subtly paints emotion into what might otherwise be a dull snapshot in time–and even though we have an insight into that emotion, it still can’t capture being there in color.

The production stays out of the way of the vivid stories and adds a richness and expressiveness to the song as it builds up towards the chorus. Johnson may not be the most gifted vocalist as far as range goes, but he is more than capable and knows how to interpret a song for good effect. Needless to say, he nails the delivery in this song.

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  1. Chris A
    March 17, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Just last month I finally got internet access at home. Being able to purchase “That Lonesome Song” wasn’t the sole reason for doing so, but it was one of the reasons. “In Color” and “The Cost of Living High” are outstanding. I’m so pleased he’s signed a major record deal with Mercury. I hope “In Color” does well as a single and Jamey’s around for a long time.

  2. Chris N.
    March 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Man, what a great song. It does what about half the songs I’ve heard this year have been trying to do, except it just kicks their asses all over the place.

  3. Matt B.
    March 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    This is just Awesome, just awesome. I have LOVED this song since I first heard it. I’m glad Mercury/UMG decided not only to sign Jamey Johnson but release a ‘previously released’ song as well. Good On Them. In Color was in my Top 5 songs from 07 and now I guess it can be for 08 too.

  4. Mike W.
    March 17, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I am glad that Jamey finally got another record deal. He is VERY talented and I’m glad more people will get to hear his music sung by HIM. I hope Mercury puts out “That Lonesome Song” if In Color does well. I admit In Color is a very good song, but it isnt my favorite on that album, “High Cost Of Living” is one of the best written and sung tracks I have heard in a couple years.

  5. Jordan Stacey
    March 17, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    When I first bought That Lonesome Song I immideatly gravitated toward In Color. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time.

  6. Rick
    March 17, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Hey, I won Jamey’s album here on The 9513 in one of your great giveaways awhile back but I don’t download so I never collected. Does this mean I’m entitled to a Mercury label CD version????? Just kidding…(lol)

    Jamey is a fantastic traditional country old shcool singer-songwriter, which is why Top 40 country radio won’t pay him much mind. Jamey’s in the same league as Daryl Singletary, Billy Yates, and Jeff Bates as all are talented traditional country artists whom radio completely ignores. This song is great and would do well on radio if they would just play it…

    As for Jamey’s Sony-BMG merger travails, here’s how Ashley Monroe describes what happened to her:
    “I got the opportunity to play for Sony Records when I was only 17… and a few months later I got a record deal!! The people at Sony helped me make a record I was, and still am, very proud of. Just as we were releasing the first single and video, Sony and BMG merged companies and I woke up one day to find out that most of the people I had worked with at Sony were no longer part of my world. The new company had a different vision for me as an artist and we both tried hard to make it work. They were great people but in the end it just wasn’t right for either of us. I’m not sure the CD I made will ever see the light of day but I’ve learned that in the music business, sometimes that’s just the way it goes.” At least Jamey’s “The Dollar” major label debut got released on CD unlike Ashley’s “Satsfied” album.

    And finally(!) I recently purchased Jamey’s indie debut CD “They Call Me Country” and his talent and potential were already clearly on display back in 2002. The influences of Hank Jr., David Alan Coe, and Waylon Jennings are abundantly clear making Jamey a modern day “outlaw” descendant in the mainstream country music universe….

  7. Mike W.
    March 18, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Rick, where did you get Jamey’s debut self-released disc? I havent seen it on iTunes.

    I wish more artists/labels could get together and release these self-released albums on iTunes. I get that they may not want to spend the money on manufacturing, promoting and distributing the actual CD, but at least give the fans a chance to buy it. The same thing is going on with Dierks Bentley’s debut disc, a lot of his fans are illegally downloading the disc because there is no other option. Seems like the record companies are missing out on an easy way to make some cash and please the fans.

    What else is new, I guess.

  8. Matt B.
    March 18, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Mike W., I wouldn’t be surprised if Dierks doesn’t release the album through Capital at some point. It makes a lot of sense. Kinda what Kenny Chesney did with “In My Wildest Dreams” (which I own the original version of). It’s crazy that labels don’t make ALL back catalog music available online. IT’s cheap AND ‘easy’ cash. They’re still stuck in the mind of re-issues and repackaging over and over. I guess it’s just their loss.

  9. Heidi
    March 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Yeah but if we have to wait as long for Dierks to re-release as we did for Kenny, we’ll all have it illegally already. Very annoying.

    I’m excited for Jamey. I haven’t heard the song yet but I highly respect him as an author and I enjoyed “The Dollar” and with this review, this song is promising.

  10. Rick
    March 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I acquired Jamey’s debut CD through a Nashville insider type who sells all kinds of demos and unreleased (or hard to get early stuff) album CDs from mostly Sony-BMG artists. I can’t share any more info or he’d have to kill me! (lol) Sometimes these types of CDs show up on eBay as well, but if the labels are watching and complain the auctions get yanked, like Lyric Street was doing for awhile with Sarah Buxton’s advance CD. (One just recently sold on eBay for $ 200!)

    I don’t understand why when these big labels sign an artist they make them bury and stop selling any indie CDs they released previously? The example of Dierks Bentley’s “Don’t Leave Me In Love” as discussed above is a classic example, as well as Miranda Lambert’s debut she used to sell through her website. Can’t they just license these albums for reasonable costs? Think of all the fans that want to buy them legally if they could.

    Some of my favorite Nashville albums from the last few years were never released on CD or are extremely rare, something guaranteed to sink an artist’s career. Besides having full fidelity CD-R copies of the original Dierks and Miranda albums mentioned above I’ve acquired Lane Turner’s “Right on Time”, Susan Haynes’ “Crooked Little Heart”, Ashley Monroe’s “Satisfied”, The Jenkins’ self-titled debut, Bomshel’s self-titled debut, Katrina Elam’s “Turn Me Up”, Shannon Brown’s “Tour of My Heart”, Elizabeth Cook’s self-titled debut, Sarah Buxton’s self-titled debut and other fine albums. At least Ashley’s and Susan’s albums were made available for legal download for all the good it did them.

    When big labels sign artists that become as popular as Dierks and Miranda and still don’t re-release the artist’s early indie albums, they are just shooting themselves in the foot. The big labels are just helping to hasten their own demise through such foolishness….

  11. Jordan Stacey
    March 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Rick you’re lucky, half the albums you mentioned I’ve been trying to find a way to get a copy of. I got Susan Haynes, and Sarah Buxton’s albums. But I’m still trying to find The Jenkins, Shannon Brown (TOMH), Lane Turner and especially Katrina Elam’s. I wish there was a way for me to get them.

  12. roger
    March 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    i love this song, if you are any type of a nostalgic person you know the feelings that photos can bring out and Jamey nailed it in this one….does anyone know if he wrote this himself or if not who his cowriter/s were?

  13. Matt B.
    March 19, 2008 at 5:18 am

    I’m pretty sure that he wrote it with co-writers. A majority of the Nashville writers co-write.

  14. Matt B.
    March 19, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Rick, the problem you mention with the ‘shelving’ of product or not paying attention to ‘prior’ ‘indie’ releases by the now major label artists is a time-worn practice. It’s just the way of the business.

    Toby Keith had to BUY his record from UMG before releasing it on DreamWorks. The record, “How Do You Like Me Now?” went on to be his most successful release. Eric Heatherly has TWO unreleased records in the UMG vaults now.

    Sony Records didn’t relese ANY tracks off of the Sons of the Desert’s unreleased 2nd record for them. The only track they let go was a single. The reason? Sony gave “Goodbye Earl” to the Dixie Chicks after SOD found it and recorded it. Sony bought ALL of the rights (for them) to record that album. One of the songs was “Bless The Broken Road.” Would you rather have heard Drew Womack or Gary LeVox sing that song? I’d take the Texan any day.

  15. Walter Morbeck
    March 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Jamey Johnson rules! There so many great songs on “That Lonesome Song,” like the title track, “Place Out on the Ocean,” “The Door is Always Open,” and of course “In Color” which hits all the right notes without veering into schmaltz. I wish he’d swing through San Jose’s Rodeo Club again; saw him there in ’06 and he brought the house down with his performance.

  16. shiloh
    March 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I LOVE Jamey Johnson. He is soooo talented and his music speaks to me. Plus he had the best ever CMT award thank you of all time!

  17. Bonnie
    March 28, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Jamey Johnson new release ‘In color’ is fantastic. I fisrt heard of him from the local radio station WGNA in an interview with him and playing his song next. WOW moving and wonderful. His voice is old school and easy on the ears..

  18. Brian
    April 10, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    You are right about Jamey and Jeff Bates getting screwed by country radio. They both are more talented than half the people you hear on a daily basis.

    Can anyone tell me if they know where Jamey performs? His website never has any concert dates.

  19. SEAN M
    April 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Very rarely does a song come along that moves me the way this song has! Its been stuck in my head since the day I first heard it. The last song that hit me this hard was “Seminole Wind”. So its been awhile, but definitly one of my new all time favorites.

  20. Creek
    May 2, 2008 at 6:54 am

    This guy is amazing, his songs and voice leave a haunting image everytime you listen to him. This is what country music is truely about

  21. greg pope
    May 4, 2008 at 9:49 am

    This is one of the best song’s I’ve heard of all time where can I get this album or wene is it cominig out Thank’s

  22. Mayme M. Kelley
    May 7, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    It is very rare today to have a song make you stop whatever you are doing and take your breath away! It’s amazing what great artists and songs get pushed to the side and never released! I dare anyone who listens to any genre of music to hear this song and not be moved! It’s wonderful!

  23. jared
    May 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Dude i love this song!!!!! why isnt it on itunes? does anyone know?

  24. KathyP
    May 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    HUH, Jared! “In Color” is on itunes. I downloaded it the other day.

  25. Brady Vercher
    May 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    KathyP, I believe they pulled down the album to gear up for a release. It’s no longer available on Rhapsody, either. I think they’re going to rearrange the songs and add a few new ones. His MySpace has one called “Mowin’ Down The Roses.”

    He used to have links to our “Top Albums of 2007″ on his website and MySpace, but those have been pulled and his website is being redesigned. I also noticed a new bio a few days ago that mentions a few more songs that weren’t on the album: “When the Last Cowboy’s Gone,” “Out on the Ocean.,” and “Between Jennings and Jones.” Go give his bio a read, it’s pretty interesting.

  26. KathyP
    May 15, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Brady – thanks for the update. I’m still happy I had the opportunity to get the song when I did. Hopefully, he’ll get the exposure he deserves.

  27. Jenna Vercher
    May 23, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Everything about Jamey is amazing!!

  28. kittyk10
    May 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I loooove this song. I get chill bumps everytime I hear it! I can’t wait to hear more from him.

  29. Todd
    July 21, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I love this song more every time I hear it,this has to be one of my top two or three single realeases of this year.Jamey’s haunting delivery of the lyrics fits this song perfectly.

  30. Bobby
    July 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Best song of 2008. And that says a lot, since I thought “Love Don’t Live Here” was headed for that position on my personal chart.

    I have to get this album when it comes out. I think Country Weekly’s a little generous with the ratings at times (3 1/2 for Phil Stacey?), but if the rest of his album is even half as good as this masterpiece, I’d buy it.

  31. Steve L
    December 12, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    That was my tail gunner ol’ Willie Mcgee he was a high school teacher from New Orleans. Totally RIGHTEOUS!!

  32. lexi
    January 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    i love this song its m favoritey

  33. janie
    January 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    this is one of my fav artists.i would kill to have some of the early recordings of his or miranda.the record co. would make a killing.i have his first album and i love it.but i love that lonesome song even more.i am anxious to see what the next single is to come out.radio is wrong the songs that labels pic pick are not always right.gary allan has better music then what they pull from his albums.he should be on top too. but radio doesnt see that.everyday i pray for not so much pop country….

  34. Amber
    March 5, 2009 at 7:25 am


  35. CODY
    May 6, 2009 at 5:10 pm


  36. Creek
    May 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I love country music, and this is not “he stopped loving her today”, but i do believe it is a Top 10 Country song of all TIME…..

  37. iAm-aBanana
    January 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Great song. I really love it.

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