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Book details
  • Genre:DRAMA
  • SubGenre:American / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:113
  • eBook ISBN:9781620950463

A Real Live Country Song

by Mike Johnson

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
What started out as a boring day was suddenly transformed into an experience of a lifetime when into Kyle’s life hitch-hiked a real live country song. A hitch hiking, guitar totin’ cowboy stops off at Clancy’s, a little general store on Interstate 10s west bound service road just outside of Houston Texas, where Kyle works as a delivery boy. Intrigued by the paw print design, the cowboy’s fine looking guitar, and fueled by his own secret desire to someday record songs in Nashville, the boy initiates a conversation that soon morphs into an impromptu concert of country music songs interlaced with some interesting tales of the traveler’s life. Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records
"A Real Live Country Song" was written in November 1987, inspired by a song that Mike Johnson had written in October of that year, which was in turn inspired by some barroom tales by some of his drinking buddies. The story is told in the first person by young Kyle Richards who lives in the little town of Travis Texas, just west of Houston. He starts out with a glimpse of life with his rather congenial family, his desire to travel the country on his Harley-Davidson Sportster, and one day record country songs in a Nashville studio with his father. After a holiday fishing trip with his Deputy Sheriff father went south because of trouble at the Houston County Jail, Kyle decides to throw in some extra hours at Clancy’s General store, where he works as a delivery boy. The morning starts out routinely, deliveries, drooling over Jan, Clancy’s daughter and store manager, and washing the pickup truck. While taking a soda break on the front porch a glimmer of light bouncing off the highway catches his attention. Soon a figure wearing a cowboy hat tops the last of the rolling grades before it levels out and passes the store, and it becomes apparent to Kyle that the person is wearing mirror sunglasses. The cowboy is trying to thumb a ride and eventually works his way into Clancy’s lot and plops down on the stairs. Kyle silently sizes him up and slowly works up the nerve to engage him. Intrigued by the strange paw print design on the cowboy’s tote bag and guitar’s headstock, as well as the fine looking guitar, Kyle eases in by seeing if the cowboy was thirsty and hungry. A casual conversation about the paw print, the cowboy’s guitar and their own music choices slowly melts the ice and soon the cowboy is singing some of their favorite country songs. With each passing song vignettes of the traveler’s experiences unfold, leading Kyle to suspect that maybe this cowboy isn’t so ordinary after all. A feeling further enhanced when Jan seems indicates tells him that she may have seen this cowboy before. A sizable crowd develops around the picnic tables to listen and business gets busy. Kyle seizes the opportunity and turns it into an extravaganza to which the cowboy obliges. Eventually the cowboy winds things down and tells the boy he has to be on his way to San Antonio. He uses the store’s facility and just before leaving he hands Kyle an envelope to which he makes him promise not to open until the next day. Kyle promises and as soon as the cowboy disappears over the horizon he speeds home to recount his exciting day with his eager family. Even without the contents of the envelope there was no doubt in Kyle’s mind, that he had indeed met a real live country song. Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records
About the author
Mike Johnson is Country Music's No. 1 Black Yodeler. He has also written more yodeling songs than anyone and 114 of them [including his “Black Yodel No.1” - “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” and “Yodeling 40 Years” CDs] became part of the Recorded Sound Reference Center's permanent music collection in the Library of Congress in April 2007. He was inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall Of Fame by The National Traditional Country Music Association at the 27th Annual Old Time Country Music Festival, in Avoca, Iowa on 1 September 2002 Born in June 1946, this Altar Boy, Eagle Scout [1960] and Camp Counselor, attended and graduated from Catholic Grade and High schools. Contrary to popular belief, Mike did not aspire to be a singer or yodeler during his youth. He was an avid reader who loved to draw pictures, write stories, and spend his time camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, back packing, and canoeing. In September 2005 he joined the U.S. Navy and served two Vietnam tours attached to the USS Constellation, CVA-64 from 1967 to 1969. Afterwards he also worked as a Bus Boy, Motorcycle Courier, Park Police Officer, Freelance Photographer, Driving Instructor, and in September 1981 he became a long-distance trucker. Trucking, starting with Newlon's Transfer [1981 to 1995, the first of three companies] in Arlington, Virginia, would play a major role in establishing him on the Independent Country Music circuit. When Mike did become musically involved, his early influences, the Singing Cowboys like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Tex Ritter, Herb Jeffries [the first and only Black Movie Singing Cowboy] and the sound of the Steel Guitar paved his way to Country Music. He honed himself on the music of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Roger Miller. Mike says that Roger Miller gave him the songwriting bug. "I just wanted to be a songwriter! But I've had to do everything else along the way to get there!" Mike began performing in local bars and honky-tonks in the mid-1960s. This paved the way to appearances at other places around the country from 1978 on. In April 1981 he went to Nashville for his first professional recording session at Jim Maxwell's Globe Recording Studio on Dickerson Road. He recorded five songs in a two-hour session from which sprang his first 45rpm single, "King Of The Fish” backed with “Please Don't Squeeze The Charmin" on his MAJJ Productions literary banner. Lawrence Record Shop in downtown Nashville was the first retailer to carry his new release and have been carrying his music ever since! "I still regard the Globe Recording session as the best one I ever did!" Mike maintains. When Globe Studio relocated to White House, Tennessee in 1983 Maxwell sent Mike over to his friend Jim Stanton at Champ Recording Studio on Church Street, also in Nashville. Here he met, became friends with, and mentored under the founder and owner of the legendary Rich-R-Tone Records and continued to record his songs at Champ Studio until Jim's untimely death in 1989. "Jim taught me how Nashville clique thought and worked..." Mike acknowledges. "Did You Hug Your Mother Today?" became his first radio hit in 1994, being the most requested song and playing for three weeks surrounding Mother's Day on Big John Baldry's Michigan Jamboree Radio Show, WBYW-FM 89.9. Mike has appeared in numerous publications, from newsletters and magazines like Hard Country Beat, to the Washington Post, as well as in Pulitzer Prize Nominee, Pamela E. Foster’s two anthologies about African Americans in Country Music; her 1998 "My Country, The African Diaspora's Country Music Heritage" and her 2000 "My Country Too, The Other Black Music." In the spring of 2003 his song "Hank Sang Mostly Sad Songs" debuted on Dustin Hunt's CD Album "The Man, The Music, The Legend, A Tribute To Hank." Everything came to a sudden halt in November 2003 when three of his neck vertebrae collapsed on his spinal cord. He was treated at the Veterans Hospital in Washington D.C. and underwent surgery in January 2004 at the Veterans Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. On 27 September 2004, Mike's mother passed away at the age of 75, following a two-year bout with brain tumors and he subsequently ceased publishing his Top-Rail Chatter Magazine for good. After almost two years of immobility and rehabilitation, Mike began showing physical signs of improvement and was learning to tolerate the physical limitations. His first post-injury performance came on 7 May 2005 when he participated in Bart Plantenga’s Yodel book promotion at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York with Yodelers Randy Erwin and Lynn Book. Bart authored the 2004 Best Seller "Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo, the Secret History of Yodeling Around the World." Mike's "Yeah, I'm A Cowboy" is one of the 18 yodeling songs featured on Plantenga’s compilation "Rough Guide To Yodel" CD, released in September 2006. The first Issue of Big-Mag #1 [30 March 2007] a Netherlands publication, featured Mike in a 5-page article written by Plantenga. He has since been the subject of several of Bart's yodel-book lectures, complete with a PowerPoint Slide Show presentation and will be featured in Bart’s follow-up book on the history of yodeling, “Yodel In HiFi” releasing in the spring of 2012. Mike has been involved in a number of projects since. In July 2009, the Library of Congress Recording Arts Reading Room accepted a copy of his 22-song “Mike Johnson Song Folio” into its collection. He was back in swing at the 2009 & 2010 Old Time Country Music Festivals in LeMars, Iowa. His new T-Shirt Catalog came out, a new song book, and a couple of his out-of-print books are back in print. In response to the overwhelming popularity that the “Rough Guide to Yodel” CD gave to his song “Yeah I’m A Cowboy” Roughshod Records released it as a CD-Sheet Music Folio in December 2009. In March 2010, his 40th CD “Mike Johnson Live” featuring a 1982 and 1983 performance in Washington D.C. was released. Mike Johnson ended the year in December 2011 on a high note. Recorded Sound Reference Center Official, Janet McKee sent 16 “Mike Johnson Live!” Special Edition Videos to their Motion Picture & Television Broadcasting Division for cataloging and inclusion in their Moving Images collection. While there have been other Black Yodelers among the numerous Minstrel and Stringband acts between 1880 and 1925, like the famous Monroe Tabor, Beulah Henderson, Charles Anderson, The Mississippi Sheiks, and his personal friend, Korean War Veteran & Bronze Star recipient, McDonald Craig of Linden, Tennessee, none of them, however, have demonstrated Mike's unique versatility in combining the Jimmie Rodgers, Cowboy, and Swiss yodeling styles. So there you have it. Mike Johnson! Man of many hats, but always Mike Johnson! Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records