"I met him a few times via coming over to a neighbor's home behind mine in late 1960's
Michael was dating one of the 8 sisters living by me - I remember him on their front porch playing his guitar - serenading Judy - One time when I came over Judy was sitting on the front steps gazing up at the sky.
When I finally asked her what she was doing - she told me that she and Michael had agreed to both look up at the moon at a designated moment with him off performing somewhere I believe or possibly back in college." Craig Swank
"I remember back in the mid-80s seeing Michael Johnson play for the first time at Stewart Hall at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. I was sitting in the front row and kept requesting he play Poor Little Robin. It didn't make his set list, but the concert security staff took me and a few of my friends back to the green room after the concert. He played it for us there and I was on cloud nine! Many years later, he was doing annual gigs at Pioneer Place on Fifth in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I requested Poor Little Robin again at one of them and he played it! There is a cloud ten :-) I miss Michael so much, but am grateful for the gift of music that he left behind." Sara G.
Hi folks, I've always believed it best to grab the bull by the horns and see who wins. Those who know me well will tell you I'm not big on fear and if I decide to do something it WILL be done. We were all given just one beautiful life...so live it!
How does this relate to music ?
In the late 1980s I went to see a show at the world famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. I went with friend of mine to watch a performer by the name of Michael Johnson. Michael was famous for his number 1 pop hit " Bluer than Blue " but there was so much more to this incredible man. Outside of several hit songs in pop and in country Michael had a trio in the early folk days with Chad Mitchell and John Denver. He was so impassioned by his music that he moved to Spain for several years to study classical guitar and became a virtuoso of the instrument. Now that's grabbing the bull by the horns ! Michael struggled hard like all of us to "make it " but make it he did.
After watching an incredible show and being absolutely blown away by Michael's guitar playing I turned to my friend and said "Man, I want to write with him." My friend responded "Who wouldn't." "Well, I'm going to ask him," I said. "You're nuts," my friend laughed. That response surprised me because the person I was with was a current recording artist himself and a great songwriter but Michael's reputation intimidated him. So I walked over to Michael and said "Hi, I'm Hobo Jim from Alaska. I'm writing in town for awhile and I'd love to try to write a song with you". Michael looked at me and said, "Are you open Monday?"....Done deal.
Monday morning.......Michael Johnson was coming to MY house to write and I didn't even have an idea for a song. An hour before he arrived I opened the Bible to see what were the first words to pop out. I had turned to Genesis, the story of Cain and Able. Now I had my Idea. That day Michael and I wrote an incredible song that we both performed for years. It's called......." The Line."
That song was the beginning of a writing partnership that would create dozens of songs and put Michael and I together on the road for dozens of shows. But more so, it began a great long time friendship.
Had I not reached for that bull I would have missed so much in my life. That's the whole reason for this post. If you're an aspiring songwriter, performer, artist, or anything else of any age, NOTHING CAN STOP YOU BUT YOURSELF. Have no fear, just go for it, take your blows and win.
Sadly, Michael passed away last summer. I was in Alaska performing when I got the news and it made for a rough night. In fact its made a rough year. His death was taken hard because his life and light were so full. I'll never forget this talented showman.
Though none of the songs Michael and I wrote have been recorded you can catch a few (including The Line) on Youtube.
Thanks Michael, I hope you've found peace at last.
Just another story from the road...Hobo Jim (Facebook post, January 2018)
(webmaster note: photo of Hobo Jim & MJ together on tour coming in May.)