Jamey Johnson – “In Color”
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.
- Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
- Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
- bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
- Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
- Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
- Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
- Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
- luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
- Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on Engine145.com. You're good at what you do, and The …
- bob: Go Brandy FGL - Just go away.