The Guitar Song
is a 25-song double album with thematically linked sets of songs dubbed the "Black Album" and the "White Album."
"The original idea was always to do a double album," says Jamey Johnson. "It is an album that is a tale. The first part of it is a very dark and sordid story. And then everything after that is progressively more positive, reassuring and redemptive."
The "Black" songs include the menacing, partly spoken "Poor Man Blues," the intensely defiant "Can't Cash My Checks," the sighing and bluesy "Even the Skies Are Blue," and the chillingly aggressive "Heartache." The lighter "White" songs are highlighted by the strongly autobiographical "That's Why I Write Songs," the languidly relaxing "Front Porch Swing Afternoon," the rocking "Good Times Ain't What They Used to Be," and the easy-going groove tune "Macon."
The ambitious project's textures are many and varied. "Baby Don't Cry" is a lullaby. "I Remember You" is a gospel song. "That's How I Don't Love You" is a deeply sad power ballad. "By the Seat of Your Pants" tells of life's lessons. The title tune, "The Guitar Song," is told from the point of view of two forgotten guitars hanging on a pawn shop wall. "Playing the Part" and "California Riots" come from feeling out of place as a country boy in Hollywood.
"Picking the songs for it was easy," says Jamey. "They pretty much picked themselves. We just had to decide which album each one went on and at which point on the record should each one occur. Once we decided where each fit, it was a done deal." From the Label