WANT TO GO?
Woody Hawley Series presents Michael Johnson
WHERE: Walker Theater, Clay Center
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. --Michael Johnson said 2012 was one of the good years for him.
The singer/songwriter, who performs Saturday night at the Clay Center for the first Woody Hawley show of the new year, said, "It was one of the best years ever. I signed with Red House Records, which means I actually got to make a CD."
Johnson, best known for songs like "Bluer than Blue," "Give Me Wings" and "The Moon I Still Over Her Shoulder," took a break from recording.
"The new record was the first one in about 15 years," the 68-year-old said, and then added, "Before that I was still working. I was doing stuff, but you know, when you're driving the ship yourself... I wound up on the couch more often than not."
Johnson credited his friend, folksinger John Gorka, with introducing him to the label, which in turn led to his being introduced to his new manager and agent and, of course, getting him back in the studio to record, "Moonlit Déjà vu."
"It's an introspective, but not autobiographical record," he said. "It's a very romantic record in a rather unromantic era, I would say."
He's proud of the record and, in particular, a duet he recorded with his daughter Truly Carmichael, a daughter he met just three years ago.
Johnson came up in music in the mid to late 1960s. In his early 20s, he said he met a young woman named Mary.
"I was a 25-year-old musician on the road. She was an 18-year-old girl. One thing led to another, but there wasn't going to be a wedding or a honeymoon."
Pregnant, the young woman told Johnson that she wanted to have the baby, but she was going to give the child up for adoption.
"And she did," Johnson said. "I stayed in touch as much as I could."
In the late 1960s, it was still common for unmarried pregnant women to be sent away to give birth. Mary, he explained, stayed in a home for unwed mothers, had the baby and then called him afterwards.
He said, "She called me said, 'It's a girl, everything is OK. Thanks for your support and being in touch and I'm going to go live my life now.' "
After that, she disappeared.
Meanwhile, Johnson slowly built a music career. Through the 1970s, he released several records and from the late 1970s to the late 1980s scored various hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and country charts. He worked with country/pop singers Juice Newton, Sylvia and later, bluegrass/country sensation Alison Krauss.
Into the 1990s, after changing labels, he recorded less and virtually vanished from the pop charts, though he continued to tour and wrote a column for Performing Songwriter magazine for several years.