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Jonathan Byrd on
here’s the thing:

When every musician with an Internet connection was suddenly live-streaming, it was a terrible way to discover music. Half of 2020 felt like a Zoom meeting on an iPod Touch in a gas station at 3am. No matter what you did, it felt desperate. The only thing that could keep you listening was the same thing that came across on a transistor radio in 1970: great songs. 

I don’t remember exactly how I ended up at Johnny Eaton’s livestream. We were all supporting each other. If someone who watched mine had their own, I’d eventually check theirs out. Johnny had a hundred-year-old voice and a teenage attitude. He covered songs, but not a lot of popular songs. He didn’t have banners and colored lights. He didn’t mug for the camera. He wasn’t desperate. Johnny Eaton did whatever the fuck he wanted to do.

 

A small, dedicated group showed up to listen. Johnny’s livestream felt like a going over to a friend’s house. I never imagined a Johnny Eaton album. With the death of album sales and publishing deals, I personally had sworn off of making them. 

I’m not sure Johnny Eaton imagined making an album either, but I don’t think he imagined people liking his songs enough to ask for one. I would have talked him out of it had he asked me, but he didn’t ask me. It would have been weird if he did. He’s got a job that he probably cares about a lot. He’s got a good woman and I’m sure he listens to her. But when it comes to his songs, Johnny Eaton does whatever the fuck he wants to.

And that’s a good thing. I mean, not if you’re in one. No, if you find yourself in a Johnny Eaton song, you better look for an exit. Johnny puts good people in bad places, and he leans on them. Sometimes they break. Sometimes they break something. It always feels like the only thing that could have happened. 

 

It’s a heartbreak you can dance to. After listening to Johnny on the Internet version of AM radio, the sounds of this world-class record blew my mind. Johnny’s kitchen had gotten bigger, and great musicians love a great song. Damn, I’m glad Johnny didn’t give me a chance to talk him out of this.

It’s called ‘Here’s The Thing,’ and it’s a title so perfectly Johnny Eaton that I laughed out loud when I heard it. Not a trace of desperation, just, “You said you wanted it, I made it, here it is.” Any producer or record label would have said, No. But you know what Johnny Eaton does.

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