A little time to reflect…
I’d like to take this opportunity to share a little background on my musical journey today. Yesterday, a very talented, passionate and influential figure passed away after a two year battle with colon/liver cancer. I would be remiss if I didn’t take a little time to tell you how Tim played a significant roll in my life over the past 7 years.
In 2006, I went to an NSAI Song Camp trying to improve my songwriting ability and further my music career inch by inch. As I sat in a class doing a writing exercise, Tim (the instructor) and James Dean Hicks (co-instructor) threw out the phrase “Give Up The Ghost” and had each person outline their approach as to what would guide their direction in writing that song.
After several replies from others of religion, death, rhymes of coast and most, I raised my hand. Being the twisted individual I am, I had a completely different take and wanted to see how far off-base I was. Tim calls on me after a series of eye-rolling suggestions. I launch in on how “funny” it would be to encourage those on the verge of kickin’ the bucket to actually do so! Give up the ghost… get a move on… get out of the way… I threw out a couple examples of old jv football players still talkin’ glory days in bar, old crotchety folks who were bitter and angry, etc.
Most of the class was taken aback, but Tim just kept eggin’ me on. “So you think we should just write a “get it over with” song and send it to radio eh?” I said “sure, why not?!” He was just about to answer when James Dean Hicks jumps in and says… “I can write that song.” Tim just smiled and said “so can I.”
After class, Tim made his way over and struck up a little conversation. He found out I was in a group up in Seattle at the time and working with Becky Brenner (at CBS). He invited me over to his publishing house (Giantslayer) and introduced me to Rory Lee Feek (his partner). They ended up connecting me with Adam Olsen (Creative Director) who pitched me song after song of amazing work. That lead to a whole different dimension of my career and a good, solid, 1/2 hour tangent if I let it go further on this topic. Let’s get back to Tim.
The next couple days I’d see him various places on the Row and each time, he’d make a point to come over and say “hi” or try and run me off the road in his big, white truck. He invited me out to the Bluebird Cafe for his show one of those nights with JDH, Anthony Smith and Frank Myers. There, he introduced me to 2 more people who would influence my career. Anthony, and especially Frank, have been great resources and confidants with whom I still stay in contact this day.
Anyway, I just wanted to take a minute to pay respect to a #1 songwriter who had no business in pulling me under his wing, but did. Tim Johnson may not be a household name, but his songs are and I intend to not forget his part in the line of dominos I call my career.
Please include me as part of your continued “legacy” of music left behind. I will forever be indebted to you TJ.
Songwriter Tim Johnson passed away yesterday, Oct. 21, following a battle with cancer. He was 52 and died at home. The established member of Nashville’s music community had more than 100 major label cuts to his credit, with some of his biggest hits including Diamond Rio’s “God Only Cries” and Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now.” His talent extended to the studio, where he produced artists including Blaine Larsen. Among Johnson’s more recent cuts is “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” written with Jon Wolfe and James Dean Hicks, and recorded by Joe Nichols for his 2011 album release.
The respected songwriter was active with NSAI, where he served on its Song Camp faculty and was a longtime board member. He also assisted the organization with its legislative work in Washington, D.C. Friends say he was a champion of songs and songwriters, and always encouraged aspiring writers.
In 2007 Johnson teamed with Rory Feek and Jeff Skillen to establish the Song Trust, which had success with “Bring Him Home Santa,” a song about fathers who serve in the military.
Friends and supporters rallied around Johnson following his diagnosis with colon and liver cancer about two years ago. In February 2011 Phil Vassar, Joey+Rory, Chuck Cannon, Chuck Jones, Joe West, and Wynn Varble performed at a fundraiser for Johnson at the Bluebird Café.
Growing up in Noti, Oregon, one of Johnson’s early songwriting influences was Mickey Newbury.
Johnson is survived by his wife and two children. We here at CHANCE MCKINNEY MUSIC extend sincere condolences to his loved ones.