Johnny Goes Country
CD REVIEW: JOHNNY GUITAR'S "ROLLING DOWN 95" Written by Rich Gelfand 12/27/08 Listening to Johnny Guitar is akin to taking in a blend of the best country/rock/pop/ballad-influenced music released over the last 30 years. Huh? This description is intentionally all over the map...like Johnny Guitar's music itself. One thing is certain - he will never be accused of lacking diversity. If you like melodic, mature, thoughtful music, then Johnny Guitar's latest release, Rolling Down 95, will get lots of airtime in your world (and in your truck). Right off the bat, Johnny's country/pop tinged "Parkway Drive" grabs the listener with it's crafty lyrics and tasty, David Lindley-esque guitar licks. Heartfelt and autobiographical (like many of the tunes on Rolling Down 95), "Parkway Drive" was written for and selected to appear on Touch Tunes and Rock Ola Digital Juke Boxes, which feature the song on digital jukeboxes across the country. "Girl Gone Wild" (also offered by Touch Tunes and Rock Ola) is a call-and-response, bluesy ode to "the girls of questionable behavior" Johnny has encountered traveling the bar circuit for many years. Think of a musical meeting between Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry being held at a big-rig truck stop. Also catching my ear in a hurry was the Bon Jovi/Tom Petty-inspired "Baby Yes I Do," written by Johnny for his secretary in less than 10 minutes. "By far the shortest time it ever took for me to write a song," says Johnny. The song is filled with visions of hopes and dreams, another constant throughout most of the cuts on Rolling Down 95. Possibly my favorite song on Rolling Down 95 is the beautiful, power-pop ballad "I Still Believe," a follow-up to Johnny's hit single "I Believe" from the Johnny Goes Country CD, which made it to #56 on the Adult Contemporary Billboard Hot 100 Chart in May 2008. "I Still Believe" describes the heartfelt tale of a true love lost yet still hoping to be found. To call Johnny Guitar a romantic optimist would be a robust understatement. "Rolling Down 95," the title track, was penned for a "blonde super-goddess" Johnny met one day on the beach. Part of the 70's influenced song was actually co-written by the mysterious bombshell herself. "The chorus came into being when she surprisingly pulled up next to me on I-95 a few hours later," Johnny stated in a recent interview. "She waved and blew me a kiss - that's when the whole song came into being. Later that night it was finished!" "Greatest Mom" and the rock ballad "Tear on My Guitar" were written in memory of Johnny's parents, both who passed away in 2006. The songs show Johnny once again wearing his heart on his sleeve, something he seems quite comfortable with. His deeply sensitive, emotional lyrics deliver the listener right into the songs as if he or she had known the people Johnny is singing about for their entire lives. "Wear This Ring Forever" closes out Rolling Down 95, a pretty, Mott the Hoople/Joe Walsh-style ballad. (The song is included with a bonus video on the CD.) Once again, Johnny invites you onto his crystallized rollercoaster ride journey for the perfect soul mate, brimming with love, honor, faith and a certain bright light at the end of the tunnel. Johnny Guitar's fourth release, Rolling Down 95, is his strongest to date, with a blue collar, country-tinged, solid foundation and a penchant for rocking out with searing guitar licks and profound, personal lyrics. It is refreshing yet familiar, and the perfect companion for a long trip on the road.