Jamey Johnson Offers New Song “Alabama Pines” for Free
The first non-Christmas original song we’ve heard from Jamey since the release of his double album The Guitar Song in 2010, “Alabama Pines” begins with the tingle-inducing tone of a single acoustic guitar plucking in a style indicative of classic Willie Nelson, ambling languidly into a slow dance song where the simple drums and steel guitar don’t kick in until after the first minute, and the mood is one of reflection and restfulness. By humming the third stanza, Jamey adds an additional warmth to the composition, leading into a shortened, final chorus that leaves the listener with an emotional weight.
“From now on, as soon as I can get it written and recorded, we will make it available,” Johnson said about his new label when it was first announced, and were seeing those results with “Alabama Pines.” “I’m excited about the new label because it gives me freedom and control of my own releases and music. It lets me release my music to my fans when I’m ready. I will be able to put out a new song without it having to be on an album. I’m a songwriter. Sometimes I write songs that fit records, sometimes I write songs that fit other people’s records and sometimes I write songs that don’t fit anywhere.”
Though this method of releasing music may seem enticing to Jamey’s fans, how financially lucrative it will be for Big Gassed Records remains to be seen. By releasing the song on New Years and not really alerting anyone beyond Johnson’s social feeds, the song really hasn’t received much media acknowledgement or made its way to radio, despite being Jamey’s first real new song in nearly five years. And then there’s the question if it should even be considered a single, or just a promotional track as a “thank you” to fans.
It may give mention to New Years and was released on January 1st, but “Alabama Pines” is a song for all year, and includes a quality and depth indicative of when Jamey’s music defined the pinnacle for popular country’s critical and classic country quota.
Along with the song, Jamey Johnson also posted a handwritten letter explaining the inspiration for the tune.
It was January 1, 2000, and I had just moved to Nashville. Two pickup trucks of old second hand furniture, 2 Japanese Akitas I had recently busted out of the Montgomery humane shelter, and my best friend Luke Garner and I were loading into my new place – a duplex in the Hermitage. My New Years resolution was already fulfilled. Everything that had happened after that was bonus. “Alabama Pines” is my love letter to the time and place from whence I came.
Though the pace of “Alabama Pines” won’t jump-start the heart, and may lend to some complaining about the tediousness of some of Jamey’s tracks, the song is timely and resonant, and more than anything, shows that Jamey Johnson still has the licks that made him a decorated and beloved songwriter and performer before going on his half-decade hiatus from original recorded music.
This is country music the way it has always sounded, and the way it should sound.
1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.
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January 5, 2015 @ 8:23 pm
Truth No. 2
January 5, 2015 @ 9:21 pm
When is the album coming out?
January 5, 2015 @ 9:27 pm
No word on an album release just yet.
January 5, 2015 @ 10:12 pm
I’ve been trying to find tour info. Best I can tell is that he has been off a few months and nothing scheduled as of right now… My best guess is that he is spending the time in the studio and writing. Hopefully something soon.
January 7, 2015 @ 2:08 pm
You will keep us posted?
August 10, 2020 @ 12:14 pm
Never coming out.
January 6, 2015 @ 12:05 am
I enjoyed the song… I’ll probably listen to it another 5-10 times before it’s really in me to a point that I’m feeling every piece of it, but it’s a nice mellow tune. I could easily put this on the Single Barrel playlist. Just kick back, sip and listen.
As for its commercial viability, I think there’s a much bigger plan afoot here. He’s offering the track for free … as long as you give him your email address. That’s going to allow him to direct market to you from here on in. He couldn’t do that before… the label controlled the information. Now, though, he’ll have the info.
That information is powerful. Naturally, people are going to want to be a part of what Jamey is doing, and the people who want to be a part of what he’s doing – those are the people whose info he wants. They’re going to be receptive. They’re going to be very likely to buy whatever he puts out. One song, an EP, an album, t-shirts, etc. He has a solid brand with “Big Gassed” … if he wanted to, he could create a whole line of humorous t-shirts and such using that as a the base from which to work. Think about the old “Big Johnson” t-shirts. I’ve always loved that his publishing co is “Big Gassed Hitties” … perfect play on words – but would you expect any less?
Now, maybe that’s not his endgame…but it’s definitely a way to unite him and his fan base. It’s a good step back. People have been clamoring to hear from him – and now he he’ll get what he needs most – direct access to them – by giving them what they want, new Jamey Johnson music.
The guy gets it.
January 6, 2015 @ 3:47 am
Thanks for posting that, Trig! Great taste of things to come!
January 6, 2015 @ 8:42 am
Thought it was going to be him playing the Isbell song (great song imo) – it would be cool to hear them cover each others’ ‘Alabama Pines’ songs
January 6, 2015 @ 12:50 pm
Not only does Jamey Johnson possess great songwriting talent, but his deep, drawling vocals also imbue even further emotion to the song. It’s good to see that he has not lost any of his artistic qualities since his last album.
January 7, 2015 @ 11:08 am
I’ve thought Jamey’s depth in many of his songs is like none we’ve heard in decades. But then you look at who his influences are and whom he hangs out with and you see how that developed.
This song is an awesome example of a song that is relevant to the current landscape of country music, but is much deeper. That is why it won’t get radio play…
This song is in the realm of ones past and dreams of a young person, but it isn’t the typical pop country “Friday night highschool football, kiss a girl in your truck, and smoke the funny stuff, then drink a beer by a campfire….just to drive down a dirt road in a pick up…blah blah blah” that a soccer mom listens to as she relives her failed decisions and wishes she would have given a handie to the teams QB and maybe her life would have turned out different.
Alabama Pines has some depth and respect for reflecting on your life. Not just puppy love and rollercoasters.
January 7, 2015 @ 11:36 pm
I have made this point before, but I think that the argument that bro-country lyrics are meant to appeal to women is really an overinterpretation. Lyrics like that appeal much more directly to young men.
At the turn of the decade, mainstream country was skewed heavily female due to two decades of domination by adult-contemporary love songs. Young males, the demographic least appreciative of this style of songs, responded by creating an underground hick-hop movement, with macho laundry-list lyrics and music featuring a mix of rap and hard rock. The grassroots popularity of this movement among this demographic is what gave birth to the bro-country era.
January 8, 2015 @ 12:48 pm
I think bro-country is geared to young bros…but I was pointing to more pop country-ish songs that are all about highschool memories. I.E. the Luke Bryan’s of the world. Kenny Chesney is Mr. Highschool memory too, but I don’t mind Kenny, he’s good beach music as well.
But the soccer moms eat up the highschool memories because they are bored with life now.
This Jamey song is sort of a look back at ones formidable years, but not in that shallow puppy love format.
January 6, 2015 @ 1:50 pm
Trigger, has your stance on Jamey Johnson softened, is the mainstream country climate just so arid to make you desperate or is this just that one song that you can get behind with Jamey and his fans? Just curious. You’ve always been a tad dismissive of Jamey, though your reasons why were always fairly reasonable in my mind. Even then, I was surprised to see a rating of 1 & 3/4 guns up. I do believe that’s the best rating you’ve given the man on SCM.
January 6, 2015 @ 3:57 pm
I really like this song. I think it is well-written and produced. It’s not a home run, but a solid triple. I strive to not have any stance on Jamey Johnson or anyone that will sway my grades one way or the other. My concern with his music over the years is that it can be a little boring. An entire album of songs like thios may get a little tedious, but in this context I thought this was a strong effort.
January 7, 2015 @ 7:21 am
I know that you try to remove bias from your ratings, I just know from your reviews of The Guitar Song and Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran that you find Jamey to be a little deficient as a performer. Granted, it’s been years since those reviews at this point, but I know he’s not your favorite. In fact, I feel as if I understand your stance on him (whether that be in the past at this point or not) because it’s similar to how I feel about Kacey Musgraves or Justin Townes Earle’s last few albums. Bunch of praise, but the music comes across as dry and nothing special. Heck, even Johnny Cash had his fair share of songs that were flat dull, but I suppose that’s to be expected when you make 100 albums (listened to the Unearthed box set as I type this, not that it’s boring, it just came to mind).
January 7, 2015 @ 8:44 am
As a huge Jamey Johnson fan, I wasn’t absolutely crazy about Living For A Song and The Guitar Song. Both were very solid, but not homerun’s…. That Lonesome Song was and is one of the greatest country albums ever released from top to bottom. It is just that good.
January 6, 2015 @ 6:13 pm
January 7, 2015 @ 10:35 am
This is awesome and I applaud him for doing exactly what he said….”as soon as I can record it, we will release it.”
Good music doesn’t need other media coverage, grand release dates or big radio introductions. Good music just needs to be released and all those other things will come because it can’t be ignored.
January 7, 2015 @ 10:51 am
Just listened to the song. This is rock solid Jamey. Right in his wheelhouse. Slow, lounge-front porch country music. Is it earth moving, no. But it isn’t some pandering to radio or some deviation to anything but Jamey being Jamey.
Love it and kudos to him. This is just a guy that loves country music.
January 7, 2015 @ 3:02 pm
For me, it was just nice to hear jameys voice on a traditional recording again. After the initial listen it was a little slow but after a couple more i like the direction hes taking and this would be a solid album track but wouldnt be a great single in my opinion. Anybody else feared an isbell cover?
January 7, 2015 @ 3:20 pm
Ha, Isbell cover. Never even crossed my mind and happy it wasn’t reality.
I think we have to begin to view Jamey’s music in a song by song context unless he explicitly says an album is coming. With this “I will release it as fast as I record it” claim having his own label, I don’t think judging the strength of a single song in how it would fit into a album format is fair.
I think this song is pretty laid back tune. Much like “Front Porch Swing Afternoon”. But to measure it as a single or deep track from an album, when it is simply isn’t part of an album, may not be the way to judge Jamey’s music any longer.
That said, there is a stretch of songs on “The Guitar Song” that fit that album format and would seem odd if just released like this Alabama Pines tune.
January 9, 2015 @ 7:34 pm
Jamey’s FB has been very active the last few days. He’s been posting pictures (and I can only assume they are day of or very recent) of him with Craig Wayne Boyd, Chris Stapleton, Bill Anderson …. future co-write credits on a new album?
January 12, 2015 @ 7:54 am
Thought he was covering Isbell when I first misread the headline. I will listen to the song next but one of the lyrics caught my eye….”sitting on A front porch swing”….I like a definite article better because it is specific and not so cliched. My swing, her swing, the swing….not just any old cliched swing will do. Right?
January 27, 2015 @ 2:44 pm
As far as I’m concerned, and I stole this comment from my best friend KB, JAMEY JOHNSON IS SAVING COUNTRY MUSIC! He’s the BEST active singer/songwriter today, no questions asked. This new country on the radio today is an insult to real country music. I refuse to listen to it and am grateful someone like Jamey Johnson is around to give hope to real country music. I hope he continues making great music. Although it probably won’t be played on FM radio, the “new country” stations aren’t worthy of his old fashion style anyway.