Human: The Double Album

Cody Johnson

Human: The Double Album

Country singer-songwriter Cody Johnson is especially beloved for his live shows, which pair long set lists with a crack band and rowdy energy. For Human The Double Album, Johnson attempted to recreate the feel of those shows, pulling together 18 tracks and sequencing them as he would a live set. The opening title track shows a newfound vulnerability from Johnson, also evident on “God Bless the Boy (Cori’s Song),” which is dedicated to his young daughter, and “Made a Home,” which he cut for his wife. Other standouts include “Sad Songs and Waltzes,” a Willie Nelson cover on which Nelson himself appears; a cover of Vince Gill’s “Son of a Ramblin’ Man”; and “Cowboy Scale of 1 to 10,” a clever, playful tune reminiscent of Charlie Daniels. Below, Johnson shares insight into several key tracks.
“Human” “It's by Tony Lane and Travis Meadows, two of the most incredible songwriters in the world. And the fact that this song hasn't been cut in country music is baffling to me. But it also kind of speaks to the place that country music is in. I think that certain people would rather sing songs with a certain beat or a certain subject matter to get certain notoriety rather than taking the chance of singing a song that is vulnerable. And I also think that ‘Human’ is a song that you have to have lived in order to sing. I did live that, you know, all the late nights playing, all the highways, all the midnights, all the whiskey—that's what I did.”
“Sad Songs and Waltzes” (feat. Willie Nelson) “I'd been covering that song for quite a long time. We were in San Angelo, Texas, and it was before I could even afford a merch guy—I would play my set, and then I would run out there to the merch booth and sign autographs, and just basically sit there till the club closed, just trying to make any money I could. I got back to the hotel that night, about 3:00 in the morning, like, ‘What am I doing? Am I doing the right thing? I miss my wife. I don't have a normal life.’ I turned on my TV in that little podunk hotel room and it was Austin City Limits on PBS and Willie Nelson was playing. I'm not sure what year it was recorded in, but you could tell he was fresh out of Nashville. He said, ‘I sat down in front of the record man and I played all my songs, and the record man told me, ‘Well, those are good, son, but I hate to tell you sad songs and waltzes ain't selling this year.’ And he said, ‘So I went home and wrote this song.’ And in that moment I felt such encouragement. It gave me a new drive and a new fire, a new set of goals to just be myself and to not compromise and to continue on my path.”
“God Bless the Boy (Cori’s Song)” “There's a certain character of man in that song that I want my daughters to find. I take my girls on dates together. I open the door and I pull their chair out, and I ask them where they want to go and I treat them. I tell them, ‘This is how a man is supposed to treat a woman.’ It's not about the kissing and the hugging. It’s about respect. And it's about lifting that woman up. I want to instill that in them; that way hopefully, by God's grace, I can give a good example of the man that they're supposed to find.”
“Son of a Ramblin’ Man” “When you think about Vince Gill, you think about the many No. 1 hits, and that one just kind of got lost somewhere. It wasn't ever really one of his focal-point songs. I thought, ‘What a great rowdy yet clean song.’ I think it's funny how he says, ‘Ain't a thing in the world I don't love without a woman. I'm going to try to love them all.’ It's just kind of a cocky, Allman Brothers, ZZ Top-ish sound. So me and my band, we started playing it years ago, and it started to take on its own feel.”
“I Don’t Know a Thing About Love” “It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the record, because I've never gotten to let loose like that on a track. I think you get to see a different side of me. You get to hear those soft, intimate moments, and then all of a sudden it's just a scream. I mean, if that song don't make you move back and forth, you need to check your pulse.”
“Made a Home” “People think you get married and there it is. It's not. It's hard work. It's give and take and it's push and pull, and it's a lot of talking and it's a lot of listening. And there's a lot of good moments and bad moments. And I think that song really characterizes it.”
“Cowboy Scale of 1 to 10” “I walk in the door to Trent Willmon’s house, and Trent and David Frazier are sitting there writing. And I said, ‘Well, don't let me bother you guys. I'll go out to the back porch or something.’ They're like, ‘No, we're halfway into this song and we kind of want your take on it. It's called “Cowboy Scale of 1 to 10.”’ And it's this talking, kind of Chris LeDoux, Marty Robbins, Charlie Daniels-type thing. And it's got a little bit of a cocky element to it, but it also has a way of saying, ‘Let's be real, guys. What are you on the scale?’ It's not a ‘you are or you aren't’ kind of thing. It's just where you fall. And I think there's some humor in that.”
“By Your Grace” “You start the project with ‘Human,’ and I'm still learning to be human. And when you end the project, it's just that while we're all still learning to be human, at least for me, it's because of His grace that I have the things in my life that I have. I'm not a perfect man. I fall short every day, whether it's as a husband or as a leader or as a father. I was in a place in 2020 where my job had been taken away from me. I was at home having to address things about myself, and kind of looking in the mirror and wondering, ‘Where do you go from here? What if this is it?’ I'm asking for the courage to make a change, and that kind of courage you're not going to find within yourself a lot of times. A lot of times you have to look to your higher power and say, ‘I need help. I'm just a man.’ But I have to remind myself that we have hope. By your grace, I have hope.”

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