Top 40 Singles of 2008: Jamey Johnson – “In Color” (#1)

For the last 40 days we’ve counted down the top 40 songs so that we’d end right here, on January 1, 2009, with our Top Country single of 2008.  If you’ve followed along you probably figured out this one’d be our favorite.  Now you can read what makes this song the best.

In the fickle, fickle world of contemporary country music an artist doesn’t often get second chances. Sure, a record label might give someone a second (or third) chance at success but radio is less likely to grand those success so when Jamey Johnson’s first deal with Sony Nashville dissolved, many figured the singer would return to ‘just’ writing songs.  And for a while he did just that as he wrote the award-winning George Strait song “Give It Away” with Buddy Cannon and Bill Anderson and the Trace Adkins-performed #1 hit “Ladies Love Country Boys,” but Jamey Johnson had a scratch that still needed itching so he went into the studio, on his own dime, and recorded the album that became “That Lonesome Song.”  He then sub sequentially released the album to digital retail where it began to have a cult following.  Labels started hearing the buzz and Jamey eventually found a home at Mercury Nashville. 

While Mercury pulled the album off of the digital shelves (to re-issue physically and digitally with a few new tracks present) they did release this single.  The song was initially rejected by the bigger stations but as time grew on and the song continued to get emotional response, “In Color” began to gain steam with radio and by the end of this year, it was a certified Top 10 hit single –Jamey’s first as the singer– and continued to reap lots of praise from the industry as it was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Country Song” category — Co-writers James Otto and Lee Thomas Millar also were nominated.

The imagery used in the song is simple.  It finds a grandfather talking about his life through the pictures.  The “you should’ve seen it in color” phrase is something older folks have said for years as color photos weren’t affordable for the masses until around until the late 1950′s.  By using the photos, Jamey and his co-writers were able to craft a story arc that through the pictures. It was a great way to make the lyrics more vibrant and emotive.  The simple, steel guitar-laced melody only served to emphasize the lyrics even more.  There were few songs this year to use simple story-telling devices in a way that Jamey Johnson did with “In color.”  It was certainly enough for this single to be our “Single of the Year” for 2008.

Watch the music video here.

Read our Exclusive interview with Jamey here.

read the album review here.

Read the song lyrics here.

Watch the music video for the likely 2nd single “Mowin’ Down The Roses” here.

 

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