Why Cody Johnson’s Rodeo Song Is So Difficult to Perform
The reason Cody Johnson quit riding bulls is simple: he just wasn't good enough. He misses it though — man, does he ever miss it.
"Dear Rodeo" is a fascinating song on the 2019 Taste of Country RISERS' Ain't Nothin' to It album because even a kid from suburban Detroit can take something away from his pain and misery. It's a love song — swap a few nouns and you have an aching bleeder worth holding onto. Make no mistake who Johnson is singing about, however.
"That one song is probably the hardest song I've ever played because I wanna tear up every night because it was so real," The "On My Way to You" singer says. "You can't write that song unless you've lived that song."
Watch Cody Johnson's' Live Version of "On My Way to You"
Bull riding and rodeo events, Johnson points out, are a unique sport because you don't get paid unless you're winning. So, unless you're great, you're broke. With a wife and family plans, broke wasn't going to work. If he needed more of a reason, there's also the broken bones, scrapes and that strange sound his eye still makes as it rolls around his orbital bone, a result of sinus surgery.
"I don't know that it's a good idea," he admits when presented with something along the lines of "WTF?" "The thrill is that for that brief moment, you're the only person in the world doing that one thing and it's very intense. It's very draining and everybody that's watching just wants to be you for eight seconds."
Trent Willmon encouraged Johnson to write the song, realizing it was an area of the Texan's life he hadn't explored. That was painful, he admits, but listening to the song on the way to the airport one day prior to the album's release, he put all the pieces together to find a new peace and purpose.
"I always talk about God's plan ... I believe in faith. I believe in His plan," the singer says. "All that rodeo, that intense high of riding bulls and thinking that was what I was going to do, and that intense low of that instant realization at a young age that I wasn't good enough and I didn't finish that. That almost depressed area of my life ... all that was allowed to happen to me for one song."
Of course this begs the question of what is he living through now that will end up on paper in a decade — something Johnson approaches with confidence, if not patience. Get him talking about rodeo and the events he's still good at and you'll find a new spark in his eye — that bad-boy streak that once convinced him he could be tops in a sport few succeed in.
Good music and good advice, plus faith in God's plan, set him straight. Fortunately.
Have You Seen Cody Johnson's "Husbands and Wives" Cover?