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Jamey Johnson Cites Years-Old Concussion for Lack of New Songs

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Jamey Johnson is one of country music’s greatest contemporary songwriters, but he hasn’t exactly been prolific in recent years. In a new interview, the singer-songwriter blames his lack of new songs on a concussion he suffered years ago.

“I’m making progress on the creative parts of my brain. It’s been about 7 years ago, I got a concussion. I slipped on some ice coming out of the studio one night and I hit my head pretty hard,” he tells KentuckyCountryMusic.com. “What I found out from a neuroscientist out in Scottsdale, Arizona, here recently is that ever since then, my brain has been locked in a hyper vigilant state, which it focuses on survival. Anything that isn’t directly relevant to survival, it just doesn’t focus on [at] all anymore.”

Johnson says that has directly affected not only his songwriting, but even being open to it at times.

“I can still write. The craft is still there,” he explains. “The inspiration isn’t always there and even when it is, it isn’t very easy for me to focus on it the way that I once did. But it’s coming back little by little. So that’s one of the reasons for going so long.”

See Where Jamey Johnson Falls in the Top Songs of the Century

Johnson shot to fame in 2008 with the release of his second album, That Lonesome Song, and the overwhelming success of its lead single, “In Color.” His next album, 2010’s The Guitar Song, was critically acclaimed, but since then he has released only a tribute album to Hank Cochran, a Christmas EP and a handful of singles, as well as writing for other artists including Willie Nelson and George Strait.

It’s been nearly seven years since Johnson released an all-new studio album of songs, though he has kept busy with touring, extricated himself from some bad business deals and opened his own label, Big Gassed Records. Johnson has often cited his struggles with the business side of his career — specifically his difficulty in keeping any of the money resulting from his songs — as a big concern. He also cites his love of performing as a barrier to more songwriting output in the new interview, saying he finds it difficult to get into songwriting mode in the few days he has at home between runs of live dates.

“The only way I’ll be able to completely write out of sheer inspiration, I’d have to come off the road for a period of time for a good while. I’m not ready to do that yet,” Johnson admits. “The truth is, I really love it. I love traveling. I love playing all of these shows for all of these folks. I love that they love it and I could do that for a long time. I don’t see me ever quitting it.”

There has been no timeline announced for any new recording projects from Johnson, but fans can keep up with his tour dates via his official website.

The Cadillac Three Honor Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” 

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