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Jamey Johnson Values Music Over Media

Jamey Johnson released his new album, ‘The Guitar Song,’ earlier this week, and already fans and media alike are buzzing about the unconventional double-disc package. But while ‘Guitar Song’ may be one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2010, coming on the heels of his Grammy-nominated CD, ‘That Lonesome Song,’ Jamey remains decidedly unfazed by all the attention. In fact, he says he’d be perfectly fine if it all died down and he could focus solely on what he loves — making music.

“There’s a type of personality that works really well in that environment of over-driven press,” Jamey tells Billboard. “The red carpet deals, the high-dollar dinners. Looking good is way more important than being intelligent. Nobody cares what you have to say or really what you think about anything — just stand there and look good and keep signing those autographs. That’s not what I signed up for. That’s never been on my agenda, trying to get to somebody’s VIP party or trying to look big and rich and all that kind of stuff. That’s never been on my priority list at all.”

The media blitz surrounding Jamey and his music is certainly helping catapult him to superstar status, but it’s also the very thing he dislikes most about his success. “It can sometimes feel like an interrogation, or even sometimes an all-out assault on the ideas that I make music out of,” he says. “I don’t like to exploit those ideas or that thinking or the story behind anything — I don’t want to exploit that at all. I like to leave that stuff intact so I can go write some more. There’s nothing worse than to have somebody get the story wrong and now they’ve misinformed everybody. This is something I deal with on a very personal level. I don’t like good press, I don’t like bad press, I just don’t like any of it. I see it’s necessary to go sell the records and everything else, I’m not trying to say they should all be damned and burned. It’s just not my strong point for those reasons. Music to me is way more personal than some people might make it out to be.”

Jamey has unintentionally been a trailblazer from the beginning of his career. Dropped from his first record label, BNA, in 2006 after scoring just one hit, ‘The Dollar’, Jamey had all but abandoned the idea of finding another label home, and was determined to forge his own musical career path. Recording ‘That Lonesome Song’ on his own, and releasing it exclusively online, he caught the attention of Mercury Records, and was offered a deal the singer-songwriter couldn’t refuse. “I sat down and talked with [Mercury chairman] Luke Lewis, and one of the first things he said about it was, ‘I don’t know what you guys are doing in that studio, I don’t care. Just don’t mess with that sound.’ I said, ‘Hell, I came here to tell you that.’”

Jamey will spend much of the next several weeks on the road, introducing fans to songs from his new CD. But for a man who dislikes the media’s bright glare, he feels entirely differently when it comes to meeting his fans. “That’s what inspires me right now, hearing so many different stories, the people I see,” he tells The Boot. “Everybody’s got one and they’re all different and they’re all fascinating or God wouldn’t have planned them that way.”

Find Jamey’s tour schedule here.

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