Music » Interviews

Joe Johnson’s Sound Advice

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KEVIN SHIRAMIZU
  • Kevin Shiramizu
Joe Johnson is a songwriter, performer, touring artist and 15-year veteran of the Colorado Springs scene. His projects include solo work, The Colorado Wildfire, Grant Sabin & The Juke Joint Highball, and the seminal psychedelic country-rock band Creating a Newsense. Here’s a selection of music that’s inspired him and could do the same for you.

Sunday morning listening: The Beatles. Several albums could qualify, but I’m partial to Magical Mystery Tour for the combo of “Flying” and “Blue Jay Way.” Really sets the mood while I’m making waffles. Sometimes I just dive into the vinyl collection on Sunday mornings, which can take me in any of a number of directions. When I’m not in the Beatles mood, old blues or soul records are the go-to. I have a live Wilson Pickett record that gets a lot of Sunday action.

First record bought with my own money: I’m not really sure, but it might have been Nevermind by Nirvana. I remember seeing the “Teen Spirit” video on MTV’s 120 Minutes the week it came out. I was about 13 and had been mowing yards to make money so I could waste it on something stupid. That music video made an impression on me though and I decided I had to have the album. Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, I didn’t have a lot of outlets to discover or consume new music, so I did what all kids in my town did when they wanted an album, I bought it at Walmart. There was a strategically placed Parental Advisory sticker on the front.

Artist more people should know: This is a loaded question in my world, since I meet and share stages with so many amazing musicians, songwriters and performers. But one person’s music really floored me recently, and that would be Pacific Northwest songwriter Anna Tivel. Her voice is heartbreaking, I can’t suggest her music enough to those who enjoy devastating songwriters.

Song I wish I had written: Also a very difficult question to answer. On the one hand, I would say that I wish I wrote one of the mega hit songs that currently pollute the airwaves because then I would have a sweet house in the Arkansas River Valley. But then the artist in me slaps the capitalist in me and says, “No. You wish you wrote ‘Things Behind the Sun’ by Nick Drake.” The artist in me is correct.

Guilty Pleasure: I have no guilt about the pleasure I feel when I hear “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. I feel like so much new popular music is terrible that when I hear something new that I really find enjoyable I should be quick to praise it. My kids, who basically introduce me to all the new music I hear, introduced me to this gem a couple of years ago. The song is so infectious and funky that I feel like it could have been a hit in multiple decades. Of course Mark Ronson deserves a great amount of credit for the crushing track, but you can’t deny Bruno’s soul. Well, you can ... but you would be wrong.

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