I Am A Man

February 15th, 2007 |

The last few days have been bizarre. Tuesday I plowed snow for thirteen hours just because I can! That’s why, hotshot! Wednesday I needed more. So I plowed snow for eight more hours. As if that wasn’t enough tough-and-cool for thirty six hours, Valentine’s Day night (I don’t even know how to say that) Angel and I got Applebee’s take-out and watched four hours of House on DVD. Hold on there cowboy, theres more wicked awesomeness coming right up. Today I got a cavity filled…that’s right…in my mouth!

My dentist in this tiny little Chinese woman (I actually have no idea if she’s Chinese. “Asian” just seems too generic and flippant) but in the past she’s proven herself to be quite the Viking Hammer when it comes to things that require a gentle touch. This would be the first real procedure she had done on (make that to) me beyond a simple cleaning.

She asks the same questions (Memento???) every time:

Dr. Mouthdeath (with a heavy, heavy Asian [there I said it] accent) – Do you floss every day?

Me – No.

Dr. Mouthdeath – *Gasp* Do you smoke?

Me – (the answer to this question was always yes…until today’s visit…I quit a while back)

Dr. Mouthdeath – *Gasp* Do you drink lots of soda?

Me – Yes.

And on and on. Then today she added a few unexpected questions. Right before she stuck the needle in my mouth she held my chart up to my face, pointed at my name and asked “Is that you?” That’s a great way to let a patient know that you’re really taking a keen interest in them. Then (as if she’d never milled about in my gaping maw) she asked “How do you say…Draw?” Not since grade school have I been called Draw Johnson. This is not going well.

About half way through the procedure her and her side kick are both ankle deep in my esophagus when my cell phone starts ringing. The ring on my twentyeight dollar cell phone is incredibly annoying. It is also extremely long winded so I reached down into my pocket to turn it off so as not to startle the girls. As my hand went into my pocket Dr. Yankamolar said frantically “No, No, No you can’t talk right now”.

Ya think?!?!

I am relieved to inform you that I now have one less hole in my head and the sparkly tinglies are finally gone from my cheek. I figure I’ve got about 12 to 15 months of continued Dr. Pepper addiction to find another dentist.

Picture(s) of the day

This series of pictures kills me. Angel was just playing around. Riley wasn’t.

Riley's Revenge

Riley's Revenge

Riley's Revenge

Riley's Revenge

The Big Phone Call from Nashville

February 12th, 2007 |

In the spring of 1993 I was near the end of my junior year in college. I was living at home and working evenings at a music store called Tape World. The forward-thinking creators of this chain of stores knew that the compact disc was going to be a short-lived success and they were going to capitalize on its imminent doom by selling only cassette tapes in their store. Brilliant!

Upon arriving home from work one night my mom said there was a message on the answering machine from Sam Tucker. He wanted me to give him a call.

At that time in my life Sam Tucker was more of an enigmatic folk hero than just a guy who leaves a message on your machine. It freaked me out.

A few weeks prior to this fateful phone call I had quit the first band I’d ever played in: The Influence. It was a Christian band I had been in for four years. Sam Tucker was a friend of the guitar player in that band. In fact, Sam used to play in a band with that guitar player until Sam moved to Nashville TN to become a full-time touring musician, thus his status as a hero.

It turns out that Sam had been in town recently and was hanging out with said guitar player and they watched a video of my last show with that band. Sam learned that I had quit the band, which lead to the message on my machine.

Sam’s band The Fugitive Popes was auditioning lead singers and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in driving down to Music City to try out. You betcha!

So this was my big break. This was the phone call that would make me a rock star. This was too easy. Too perfect. I owe all of my fame and fortune to that call.

I look back at 1993 and see it as the pivotal year of my life. I lost my faith in Nashville.

Stay tuned. I’m way to sleepy to get into this right now.

Pic of the day.

Angel Johnson

Riley Without Pants

February 11th, 2007 |

My son Riley has never had a very good relationship with pants. Up until recently the first thing he would do upon arriving home from anywhere would be to take off his pants. “They bother me” he’d say. My cousin Jake tells a story of Riley coming into his room (we were at Jake’s house for a family birthday party) and asking him if he would let Riley watch T.V. with him. Riley said “I promise not to take off my pants”. Jake agreed that would be fair. Riley had broken his promise by the first commercial break.

Here is a video demonstrating my point.

Click the picture to download the video. [10.5 MB for 45 seconds of entertainment]

Riley Without Pants

Now back to yesterday’s subject.

You can not keep a teenage guy from having sex with his girlfriend by threatening him with STDs. You can not keep Roswell from eating Lenore’s barf by convincing him that it’s disgusting (Rowell and Lenore are our cats). These are not just cases of using the wrong tool for the wrong job. They are more like trying to mow your lawn by playing an accordion.

There are examples of this kind of logic (or lack thereof) for almost every vice parents are attempting to keep their kids away from. “Pot will make you stupid”. This is not true. I know some extremely smart and successful people who smoke pot. “If you drink alcohol you’ll be a slobbering drunk before you can say less filling – tastes great”. This is not true. I know people who have been drinking socially for years and are in no way addicted to alcohol. “If you start looking at porn on the innerwebs you’ll never be able to stop”. This is not true. OK I’m kidding. This one actually is true.

Here’s my point, no amount of parental disincentives are going to keep a kid from falling into sin. The only thing that will keep a teenager from falling into sin is a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And here’s the rub, you can not guarantee that a kid will choose Christ when it’s time to choose. You do not get to choose for them. You can help steer them all along the way and you can give them every advantage to help them make the right decision but the decision is theirs and theirs alone. This is scary.

I know absolutely nothing about raising a teenager but I do know this, I was as spiritually privileged (if there is such a thing) as a kid can be. I knew the Bible. I knew right from wrong. I knew Jesus died for my sins but when it came time for me to choose, I chose sin. (I’ll talk about this more in the upcoming days.)

I think that teenagers need the truth. Teach them the Word of God. Teach them the cross. Enough with the “you’re not mature enough to deal with the emotions of sex” drivel. If they are drawn to the Word of God then they will be compelled to please Him. This is what I’ve found in my life. I have not stopped drinking because I’m just a better person or because I’ve discovered some hidden will-power. I have stopped drinking because I am compelled by my relationship with Christ to stay sober. I have found something that brings me the peace I was never able to find at the bottom of a bottle of vodka.

Macarena Shoes and Your Teenager’s STD

February 10th, 2007 |

Macrena Shoes is really starting to come together. It’s to the point now where I’m listening to it over and over just because I like listening to it not because I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. The dramatic flow of the song is severely crippled by the fact that I’m using a drum machine and not Dino but I’ll get him in here as soon as I can.

This is a rough mix but I still think it sounds pretty convincing. I don’t imagine there will be any huge changes to the mix even after we get the real drums added in.

One interesting thing to listen for: I am a big fan of placing the microphone extremely close to the strings when miking an acoustic guitar. On this song I had the mic sitting less than two inches from the strings and right near the neck and body joint. In the intro of this song you can actually hear the sleeve of my sweatshirt rubbing sixteenth notes on the body of the guitar. This was simply a bi-product of the mic placement and was certainly not intentional – although it is kind of cool.

Download the mp3 here

That will conclude the music portion of our presentation.

My Sunday School teacher when I was in high school said one thing I will never forget. In all honesty she only said one thing that I remember at all. I don’t even remember her exact words but the gist of it was this – kids who are raised in church will eventually come to a place in their lives where they must choose for themselves whether or not they will follow Christ. What she was basically saying was that we don’t inherit God.

Some people think that this choice comes when a person first asks Jesus to come into their heart. Often times this is when they’re still a child. I fully believe that God honors these prayers, however, deciding to follow Christ when you’re nine years old and deciding to continue following Christ when you’re twenty requires an entirely different level of commitment.

The reason my Sunday School teacher was talking about this subject was because we were all getting close to that age where we would soon be moving out of or parents’ houses, going away to college, getting married, etc. There was an urgency in her message that I’d never heard before. All of a sudden I felt like she was talking to us like adults. Like this was really important. Of course that’s not to say that Moses in the bulrushes isn’t important but this was a life or death matter – we just didn’t realize it yet.

I’ve heard the statistic that approximately eighty to ninety percent of kids raised in church will lose their faith by the time they’re in college. That’s astonishing. This has brought me to one very important conclusion: No college for Riley. Problem solved. It saves me money and it saves his soul.

I listen to Christian talk radio quite a lot and I hear some rather bizarre approaches to steering teenagers away from sin. For instance, according to some, the reasons teenagers shouldn’t engage in pre-marital sex is because they could either contract an STD or (even worse – apparently) the girl might become pregnant and, as we all know, this totally ruins her entire existence and dooms her to a life of hitchhiking from one battered women’s shelter to the next. Right?

Wrong! The STD routine is the “Ewww, that is so totally disgusting” approach. This approach has seen almost as much success as the United States’ drug policy. Just check My Space to see how quickly STDs are driving teenagers away from sex.

The other part about how pregnancy ruins your life is just plain wrong. I will certainly concede that some girls may have found life a lot harder after trying to raise an infant while in high school but ruin her life it did not.

So what do you suggest Mr. Smarter Than Everybody Johnson? Glad you asked.

I have no idea.

I’ll try to come up with something by tomorrow.

Picture of the day.

Drew and Angel Johnson in Nashville 1994

Testimony – Part 2

February 9th, 2007 |

When I got home from work today (editor’s note: I rarely mentioned my job when I was blogging at The Formula Kid‘s site because I didn’t want people to know that we were working stiffs just like everybody else – what a schmuck) I was messing around trying to figure out how to approach the guitars in the chorus of Macarena Shoes. The approach I ended up liking the most was a rip-off-combination of Eric Johnson and Ian Moore.

The guitar rig I used is shown in the picture below. This head is actually a P.A. head but it sounds incredible. I used the Dr. Z Air Brake (the gray box on top) as a master volume so as not to get arrested for disturbing the peace but other than that it’s just the Tele into the amp.

I didn’t get any keeper parts recorded but at least I figured out how I want to approach it. You can download a short clip of the guitars here.

Drew Johnson's Sunn Rig

Yesterday I said I was going to start talking about my testimony, so let’s get started.

I grew up in church. My mom was the organist, a Sunday School teacher, and she sang in the choir. My dad was the director of the church’s T.V. show, a Sunday School teacher, and he sang in the choir too. We went to church every time the doors were unlocked – they were unlocked a lot. Over the years I sang in the kids choir, played in the hand bell choir, played saxophone during the offering approximately 300 times, went to all the youth conventions, joined Royal Rangers (the Christian Boy Scouts basically), you get the idea.

Church is where I learned to play music. I took piano lessons and sax lessons from our choir director. He was a wicked pianist and a lousy sax player but he was cheap. My mom’s side of the family had all the instrumentalists and my dad’s side had all the singers so I really lucked out genetically. In fact, I lucked out in other ways too but I blew it.

Stay tuned – it gets good. I promise.

My Testimony

February 8th, 2007 |

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had been asked to speak at an event at my church. That happened this past Monday night and I’m rather pleased with how it went.

The event was a dinner that was held at the church. There were about thirty people there, most of whom have known me since I was a kid. I was asked to come and play a couple of songs and tell my story, or my “testimony” in church speak. The reason I was asked to speak is because I was one of the many, many kids raised in that church who went astray but one of the very few to come home. My story represents hope. If the Lord can change the Johnson kid surely he can do the same for the rest of them.

Some of the people who attended the dinner are the parents of kids I grew up with. They needed encouragement. They needed to know that there is hope. And I thought they should that it’s not their fault.

I talked for about twenty minutes I think. It was extremely cathartic for me. It helped me to look back at who I was this time last year and realize how unbelievably far God has brought me. How incredible God’s peace is. And how amazing it is to be free and forgiven.

Over the next few days I think I’ll blog more about what happened Monday night and what happened in the fourteen years leading up to it.

Here’s the picture of the day.

Drew and Angel Johnson

Lunar Beams Video

February 7th, 2007 |

I recorded the slide guitar parts for Macarena Shoes today. <---That is in no way interesting information. I'm just keeping track. I'm super sleepy and we've had a long day so just watch this and I'll be back tomorrow.

Macarena Shoes (sample)

February 6th, 2007 |

A couple of weeks ago I posted a little bit of the demo for the song ‘Macarena Shoes’. Well today I recorded the official acoustic guitar and vocal tracks. Here is a sample what was recorded today. This is the last phrase of Verse 1 going into the Chorus.

Click here to hear the sample

A few days ago Jeff H (a regular reader and commenter on this blog) sent me a link to an interview with Steve Albini. This interview is a must see for anyone even remotely interested in how albums are made. He talks about everything from the RIAA to his salary to compression settings. The interview is about an hour long so it may take you a few sittings to get through it but it’s very much worth your time.

Yesterday I talked about important albums, Albini produced one very important album – PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’. That album is in my top ten for sure. Truly amazing.

And here’s the picture of the day. Yesterday’s was me when I was a sophmore or junior in high school. I think Angel was probably a junior in this picture.

Angel Johnson

…and this is for Dino.

Jonny Lang Care Package

February 5th, 2007 |

There is a big difference between a good album and an important album. David Lee Roth’s ‘Skyscraper’ is a good album. Van Halen’s ‘Fair Warning’ is an important album. Joe Satriani’s ‘Dreaming #11’ is a good album. Steve Vai’s ‘Flexible’ is an important album. Michael Brecker’s ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ is a good album. John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ is an important album.

The point is, I’m starting to think that Jonny Lang‘s new album ‘Turn Around’ may be an important album. I’m not completely convinced yet but I gotta say that I don’t know that there’s ever been any vocalist that I’d rather hear sing than Jonny Lang. I’m almost hesitant to say that because I’m definitely not the guy who always thinks that the latest album he bought is the greatest album ever. But Jonny Lang is really impressing me.

His voice has the horsepower of Janis Joplin…good grief…this is going to sound like some half-witted, free-press, music reviewer. Oh well…the horsepower of Janis Joplin, the rhythmic strength of Stevie Wonder, and the range and swagger of Prince. It’s really amazing.

So I put together a three-minute sampler of a few of the most impressive sections from his album. Please check this out. I feel like it’s important that you do. After you listen to this please go buy this record. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Get the sampler mp3 here

Here’s another picture from the box of pictures Angel and I picked through the other night.

Drew Johnson

Fugitive Popes, Snapshot Sisters, and Underwater Nose Holders

February 4th, 2007 |

Just because this video never ceases to make me laugh here it is again. This is me fronting The Fugitive Popes at a rehearsal in Nashville.

And because my sister Heather commented that she’s been left out of the picture posting, here’s Heather.

Heather Simmons

This is the only recent picture I could find with her in it. If you zoom in really far you can find Heather back on the couch with Grandpa and my cousin Marc. Of course the fact that I’m in it makes me like it even more.

Alright, enough funnin’ around mates. I was baptized this morning at church. I don’t believe that baptism gets you into Heaven nor do I believe that the lack of it keeps you out. It’s just a public sign that I’ve made my decision and I want people to know about it.

We had eleven or twelve people in the group of dunkees this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people baptized in one service. It was definitely something to behold.