Is there anything this dude can’t do? We’re talking about Russell Jamie Johnson, who’s returned with his second single of the year, “First and Canal.” The mid-tempo, gentle tone of the song competently helps situate Johnson as a songwriter’s songwriter, a man who loves nothing more than to sit there with a pen and a pad in hand, and an acoustic guitar on his lap.
“First and Canal” is the follow-up single to “Put Me Out,” as Johnson has been writing a lot lately, along with his many other activities. Not only is he a songwriter and musician, but Johnson is also a successful actor and stunt performer. His specialties you ask? Why, archery and knife-throwing! As an archer, Johnson has been covered by Sports Illustrated, CBS, The New York Times, and even coached Jamie Parker, who portrays the grown-up version of Harry Potter in Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
This is a man with a lot on his plate, but without a doubt, music is his first love, and what he pours his heart and soul into.
Explaining at length the inspiration behind this latest single, Johnson told us, “The inspiration for ‘First and Canal’ came from a phone call I had with a buddy of mine from back home in Indiana. He was married and divorced by the time he was 22. His marriage lasted less than six months, but the damage that it left behind still persists. He’s now in his 30s and remarried to a loving and caring partner (who is also now a good friend of mine too) and they are truly happy together. I’ve never seen him happier in my life. However, he expressed to me that even through this newfound happiness, the scars of his past are still there.
The phone call we had was more or less a conversation of the wounds we incurred in our youth and how, although we may not have these people who caused them in our lives anymore or even really think of them, if something reminds you of them, you can be right back there to where your heart was first broken and experience a tinge of that pain once more. For me, this was caused upon seeing two cross streets in my hometown.
This is a lyric-driven song that explores specific places and memories of my home, but expresses universal emotions familiar to many of us; getting your heart broken for the first time, thinking that you will never get over it, and eventually realizing that you’re not only ok, but that you have grown and been shaped by these moments that are now memories. The pain was something necessary to mould you into the person that got through it. ‘First and Canal’ is a story and emotion I hope everyone can relate to.”
As a musical artist, Johnson thinks of himself as an alternative rock punk cowboy, a man with too many influences to list. Some of the more important artists in his life have been Bob Dylan and The Smiths, which emphasizes his love of not only folk and singer-songwriter music, but also new wave and post-punk.
One of the recent highlights of his career was his appearance on ABC’s The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart, where he both performed and competed. Being on the show opened up many viewers’ eyes and ears to Johnson’s talents, as it helped drive the success of his recent single “Sarah,” an emotional track in which he pays tribute to a friend he lost to depression and drug addiction. Even though, like everyone, he’s off the road, Johnson is well-positioned in his career moving forward.
Whether it’s music, archery, knife-throwing, or anything else, you know Johnson has it in him to rise to the occasion.