Release date: September 2010
The Guitar Song is the fourth studio album from American country artist Jamey Johnson. It was released in the United States on September 14, 2010 through Mercury Nashville.
The Guitar Song is the follow up to Johnson's critically acclaimed 2008 album That Lonesome Song. In an exclusive interview with Billboard Magazine, Johnson talked about the new release, saying "it's been really fun for me. The past several times we've been in the studio is just...it stays fresh, it stays new and we're always looking for innovative ways to bring our songs to the people."
Spin Magazine named The Guitar Song in its "25 Fall Albums That Matter Most" special, saying "Johnson likes country from the old school (or at least the mythologized "old school"), when outlaw songs met with moody ballads and swirled into something like rootsy American bedrock."
The album is divided into two parts; a 12-track CD; titled "Black Album" and a 13-track CD titled "White Album". Johnson explained his reasoning behind the double disc album, saying "The original idea was always to do a double album," says Johnson. "It is an album that is a tale. The first part is a very dark and sordid story. Then everything after that is progressively more positive, reassuring and redemptive."
In a "Q&A" with Billboard Magazine, Johnson talked about the recording for the album, which took place shortly after the release of That Lonesome Song, "about a month-and-a-half after we did That Lonesome Song, we were back in Nashville and made another record, and then a few months later we recorded another session. Every time we recorded 10 or 12 songs. My thinking was to go completely outside the box and not just release one album, but put out five or six a year, just let 'em go. When I got busy and didn't have enough time to focus on those things any more, they just started piling up. Ol' TW and I would be sitting in the mixing room listening to these songs and trying to make our way through 'em. There were songs that seemed to work together really well, and songs that didn't seem to fit this particular album at all. But somewhere in between working on a mix one night, we just kind of sat back and dreamt up this idea about having an album that takes you on an emotional journey." He also talked about the creative freedom he had in the studio saying "That creative freedom is not something that was granted to me, it's something that has always been mine. I'm the one that chooses whether or not I give that up. Nobody comes and demands that I give it up. You can demand all you want to, you'll be met with the same result everybody else has been met with so far."
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Johnson reflected on the recording of the album, saying "When we sat down to look at this album, it just kind of all came flooding in at once. But as we spent more time looking at it as a whole, we got to thinking. I could see that all these songs that we had could be placed around in the yin/yang scheme the Chinese use in their annual calendar, in terms of the time of year it was when I wrote the song, or the kind of message that the song delivers, and we developed our own little test from that as to where to put them."
The album debuted at number four on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number one on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums, selling 63,000 copies its first week of release. As of the chart dated February 19, 2011, the album has sold 263,013 copies in the US.