Mike Johnson

A Real Live Country Song

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“A Real Live Country Song” was written in November 1987, inspired by a song that Mike Johnson had written in October of that year, which was in turn inspired by some barroom tales by some of his drinking buddies. The story is told in the first person by young Kyle Richards who lives in the little town of Travis Texas, just west of Houston. He starts out with a glimpse of life with his rather congenial family, his desire to travel the country on his Harley-Davidson Sportster, and one day record country songs in a Nashville studio with his father. After a holiday fishing trip with his Deputy Sheriff father went south because of trouble at the Houston County Jail, Kyle decides to throw in some extra hours at Clancy’s General store, where he works as a delivery boy.

The morning starts out routinely, deliveries, drooling over Jan, Clancy’s daughter and store manager, and washing the pickup truck. While taking a soda break on the front porch a glimmer of light bouncing off the highway catches his attention. Soon a figure wearing a cowboy hat tops the last of the rolling grades before it levels out and passes the store, and it becomes apparent to Kyle that the person is wearing mirror sunglasses. The cowboy is trying to thumb a ride and eventually works his way into Clancy’s lot and plops down on the stairs. Kyle silently sizes him up and slowly works up the nerve to engage him. Intrigued by the strange paw print design on the cowboy’s tote bag and guitar’s headstock, as well as the fine looking guitar, Kyle eases in by seeing if the cowboy was thirsty and hungry. A casual conversation about the paw print, the cowboy’s guitar and their own music choices slowly melts the ice and soon the cowboy is singing some of their favorite country songs. With each passing song vignettes of the traveler’s experiences unfold, leading Kyle to suspect that maybe this cowboy isn’t so ordinary after all. A feeling further enhanced when Jan seems indicates tells him that she may have seen this cowboy before. A sizable crowd develops around the picnic tables to listen and business gets busy. Kyle seizes the opportunity and turns it into an extravaganza to which the cowboy obliges. Eventually the cowboy winds things down and tells the boy he has to be on his way to San Antonio. He uses the store’s facility and just before leaving he hands Kyle an envelope to which he makes him promise not to open until the next day. Kyle promises and as soon as the cowboy disappears over the horizon he speeds home to recount his exciting day with his eager family. Even without the contents of the envelope there was no doubt in Kyle’s mind, that he had indeed met a real live country song.

Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records
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121 printed pages



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