Saturday, 27 October 2012

Songwriter Tim Johnson dies

Tim Johnson the man  behind the lyrics to some of the most powerful country music songs written over the last two decades sadly died Sunday morning 1;30 am (Oct. 21) following a two-year battle with cancer.  He was 52.

SESAC, Inc., the performing rights organization with headquarters in Nashville and offices mourned the loss of the songwriter: Tim Johnson who passed away after battling a lengthy illness.
Johnson was a successful and respected songwriter with more than 100 major label cuts.
As an accomplished writer four hit songs he penned by himself: Tim celebrated a massive hit with "Do You Believe Me Now" (Jimmy Wayne), and has other chart smashes, like; "I Let Her Lie" (Daryle Singletary), "Thank God For Believers" (Mark Chesnutt), "Someone You Used To Know" (Collin Raye), and Diamond Rio's moving single, "God Only Cries."

Tim Johnson

Tim's song, "To Do What I Do," was recorded by Alan Jackson and inspired the title of his 2004 release, WHAT I DO. Tim also co-wrote the song, "When I Think About Leavin,'" on Kenny Chesney's quadruple platinum selling 2004album, WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN.
There is no doubt Tim Johnson was one of the best songwriters in the business.
Asked about song writing Tim said: "I love to write with new people, and I think everyone is capable of having a hit song idea. My job is to get that greatness out of them, and help them craft their life experiences into 3 minutes of words and melody."
The song is king,” Johnson said in 2009. “It’s about the music. We’re trying to create product and also help some new artists that maybe the labels have turned their backs on.”

Also a talented producer, Johnson was behind the boards for recording artist Blaine Larsen.  Most recently, Johnson joined forces with Rory Feek and Jeff Skillen in the establishment of the Song Trust, and realized success with “Bring Him Home Santa,” a song honouring fathers in the military.
In addition to being a successful songwriter, Johnson was a board member for the Nashville Songwriters Association International and the founder of the Song Trust along with Joey and Rory’s Rory Feek and Jeff Skillen. Their goal was to make songs the star. With the NSAI, Johnson lobbied for songwriters’ rights. And as an affiliate writer at Songwriter Institute, he worked to coach fledgling writers.

Mr. Johnson co-produced Blaine Larson’s first two major label albums, OFF TO JOIN THE WORLD, and ROCKIN' YOU TONIGHT, on Giantslayer / BNA Records and, with Rory Lee Feek, helped Larson to find a place in the Nashville music-making community. “He was an amazingly talented man, both as a singer and songwriter,” Larson wrote on his Facebook page.
Joey and Rory also wrote of his passing, saying “I lost one of my best friends today — and the world lost one of the greatest songwriters of all time…Tim Johnson.”

Nashville songwriters were among the many Johnson touched during his life, both before and after he was diagnosed with liver and colon cancer in November 2010. He underwent chemotherapy treatment and the NSAI established a fund to help him defray treatment costs, travel and other necessary expenses.

Tim Johnson (born ca. 1960 - Oct 21, 2012) grew up in the tiny logging community of Noti, Oregon, Johnson was fortunate enough to learn about the power of music from one of the best – songwriting legend Mickey Newbury, whose soaring melodies and emotional singing were of great influence and impact to Johnson’s musical life. Newbury heard Tim’s songs and encouraged him to move to Nashville.

In Nashville, Mr. Johnson wrote “To Do What I Do,” a song Jackson recorded and cites as one of the favourites in his catalogue. He moved to Nashville in 1989, from Tokyo, Japan. He taught English over there for 5 years. He also had a band and was writing songs. After moving to Nashville, he had his first hit in 1995 when Darryl Singletary recorded "I Let Her Lie"   

In the Spring of 2002 Tim Johnson came to the UK where he joined Eugene, Oregon artist Lydia Miller on tour. Lydia's self-titled debut album was released on the independent Pacific Records (Catalog# PAC-0500), and was produced by Tim Johnson. The video “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”, received heavy programming on CMT. Tim wrote 2 of the songs and co-wrote 9 of the others on the twelve-track album. Whilst in the UK he set up a competition for amateur songwriters where he asked people to submit their song for critique that then had be narrowed down to make a final choice. 

In a UK Interview dated April 2002 metrocountry asked Tim: -
What advice would you give on writing a successful country song?
Tim: In my opinion, the lyric is the driving force behind most country songs, and I think some writers, who write mainly melodies, can have success for a short time........ because I think, feel and groove and melodies kind of come in and out of fashion....... but a really strong lyric driven song, can never go out of style. You can cut a great lyric in a variety of different styles and it will still be successful.

Of all the songs that different artists have turned into hits for you, is there any one in particular that means more to you more to you than any of the others?
Tim: Well I've got to say that it's probably the one I had out last April, it's called "She Misses Him." I wrote that for my wife's Grandmother who just passed away this year at 103 years old. Longevity on my wife's side, but not on mine unfortunately. [Laughs] I wrote it for her and her husband, who had Alzheimer's Disease and was going through Dementia etc. I just wrote the song for them and never really intended writing a hit. But I guess that's how it works, you know.

It is a terrific song and very moving. I know it has been a hit for Tim Rushlow. You have also done your own version of the song on your just released album I believe. Can you tell us something about that?
Tim: Yes, it's a self styled songwriter album that I've been putting together. I did a stripped down acoustic version of the song on there, so people could listen to it in a different way, without the full production. Lydia has the defining version of that one I think.

Listen to the track “She Misses Him” by Lydia Miller written by Tim Johnson  

Tim Johnson Songwriting Credits

Mark Chesnutt Single artwork

#1’s - Mark Chestnutt with "Thank God For Believers" and "Someone You Used To Know" with Collin Raye

Joe Diffie "Back to the Cave" (LIFE'S SO FUNNY 1995) Skip Ewing, Tim Johnson
Alan Jackson "To Do What I Do" (WHAT I DO-2004) Tim Johnson
Mindy McCready  >> "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now" Tim Johnson Third single from Mindy's double-platinum selling album TEN THOUSAND ANGELS 1997.  

Diamond Rio >>"God Only Cries" lead off track Greatest Hit II (Tim Johnson) peaked at #30 on the Hot Country Songs
Kenny Rogers  >>"One Life" (WATER & BRIDGES - 2006) Marc Beeson / Tim Johnson
Daryle Singletary >> "I Let Her Lie" 1995 Tim Johnson - It was released in July 1995 as the second single from the album Daryle Singletary.  
George Strait >> "He Must Have Really Hurt You Bad" (IT JUST COMES NATURAL- 2006) Tim Johnson 
Doug Stone  >> "Nice Problem" (MY TURN - 2007) Tim Johnson
LeeAnn Womack "Do You Feel for Me" Self Titled Debut 1997 (Tim Johnson) – 3:23

Trace Adkins "A Little Bit of Missin' You" (COWBOY's BACK IN TOWN - 2010) Mickey Jack Cones / Tim Johnson / Jim McCormick
Mark Chesnutt >> "Thank God for Believers" (Title Cut 1997) Tim Johnson / Mark Springer / Roger
Kenny Chesney “When I Think About Leaving (WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN 2004)  Tim Johnson, Rory Lee Feek, Paul Overstreet
Blaine Larsen "Lips of a Bottle" (ROCKIN' YOU TONIGHT - 2006) Tim Johnson / Blaine Larsen
Reba McEntire >> "When You're Not Trying To" (SO GOOD TOGETHER) Tim Johnson / Rory Lee
Kellie Pickler "Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind" (The third and final single from her debut album, SMALL TOWN GIRL 2007)  written by Tim Johnson, Don Poythress, and Wynn Varble
Collin Raye >> "Someone You Used to Know" (THE WALLS CAME DOWN - 1998)  Tim Johnson / Rory Lee
Tim Rushlow "She Misses Him" (2001 debut self-titled album) Tim Johnson. It was released as the album's second single in October 2000 and peaked at number 8 on the U.S. country charts
Hannah Weeks >> "Christmas with Jesus" Dec 2011 She wrote this song with Tim Johnson and Johnson produced it in Nashville.

Tim Johnson performs “To Do What I Do” (Recorded by Alan Jackson) at a Songwriting Retreat, Santa Fe, New Mexico  >>  YouTube

Related post - Songwriters talk about their trade. Featuring SESAC award winning songwriters Monty Powell, Brice Long, Kim Tribble, Victoria Shaw, Tim Johnson, Anthony Smith and Peter Cooper. Video was shown at the SESAC Nashville Awards 2009  >>  YouTube


MBC & Associates, a healthcare marketing and video production company based in Nashville, wrote on Facebook: Tim Johnson was one of the kindest, wittiest, and friendliest people, as well as one of the most talented songwriters, that we at MBC have ever had the chance to work with. Most importantly, Tim was our friend. We are incredibly saddened that Tim recently lost his two year battle with cancer.
As a small tribute to a man we are all grateful to have had the honor of knowing, we created a short video taken from a Songwriter Institute "Amateur versus Professional Series" shoot we did with Tim in 2011. Tim was a master of his craft and above all, the guy you always wanted to be sitting next to.
We were blessed by your talent and friendship, and we will always remember you as you are in this video.
(Thanks to Dave McKean and Songwriter Institute for allowing us to share this video)
Tim Johnson, Professional Songwriter and Friend >> YouTube

On his Facebook Page Blaine Larsen pays tribute to Tim:
  • Yesterday those of us in the Nashville songwriting community lost a dear brother, Tim Johnson. As some of you may know, Tim had been fighting cancer for the last couple of years. He was an amazingly talented man, both as a singer and songwriter. Just google him to find all the songs he has written, it will blow you away. But he was also one of the funniest, most caring, selfless people I knew. Any...body who knew him has got many 'Tim' stories! Tim was instrumental in my career and bringing me to Nashville. He, along with Rory Feek, heard some of my music when I was 14 and they paid my way to Tennessee to record some songs and the rest is history.
  • Without Tim and Rory I would never have had the opportunities I did. They produced my two albums with BNA Records. Tim probably taught me more about songwriting than anyone else in town. He was always an encourager and he was my publisher for 4 years too. Tim and I co-wrote many of my songs that you may know. Tim and his wife Megan even let Sammie and I live with them for a month when we moved to Tennessee after getting married while we waited for our house to get finished. We had some great times together! These things that he did for me were characteristic of what he did for everyone. Tim was always helping out someone else. Our stories are deeply connected and I can't even believe that he is really gone. He was such a good friend and I will miss him so much. 
Friend and songwriter, Kentuckian, James Dean Hicks from shared his thoughts on Tim:
  • He was one of the biggest personalities and talents that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
  • Tim Johnson and James Dean Hickss
  • He made this world a better place in all ways and was a great friend to so many. He was one of the best songwriters and was a master at writing alone. “I Let Her Lie” and “She Misses Him” are a couple of the supreme works that Tim created alone. I believe what made him happiest was writing songs with his buddies and lifting us up and sharing success with us. His mission in life was to make sure songwriters got paid and recognized for their talents. And he always made us all smile. He was the funniest guy I have ever known. He was writing until the very end and was at the top of his game. I know we will be blessed to hear many of his songs in the future. Our loss is heaven’s gain. God bless Tim Johnson and his beautiful family. 
Jimmy Wayne: “Prayers for Tim Johnson’s kids & wife . Tim wrote the lyrics to “Do you believe me know”. He passed at 1:30 this am.”

Our founder, leader and inspiration has passed away.
 We love you Tim Johnson.

Victoria Banks:RIP Tim Johnson.
In your own words: “God only cries for the living/ ‘Cause it’s the living that are so far from home””
RIP Tim Johnson. Today your beautiful lyrics are a little more poignant:

"God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are left to carry on
And all the angels up in heaven
They're not grieving because they're gone
There's a smile on their faces
'Cause they're in a better place than they've ever known
God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are so far from home"
(Lyrics from “God Only Cries” by Diamond Rio written by Tim Johnson)

Chely Wright: “Rest In Peace, Tim Johnson. One of Nashville’s best songwriters, but most importantly… a good guy. #LIVESTRONG”

Joey and Rory : “I lost one of my best friends today — and the world lost one of the greatest songwriters of all time…Tim Johnson.”

Erin Enderlin: “I just heard we lost the great singer songwriter Tim Johnson today, thoughts and prayers with his family and friends. He was kind enough to let me sit in a room with him a couple time, true brilliance…

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Megan, and by two children, son Jack and daughter Cey.

A memorial service will be held Nov. 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. in Massey Hall at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art.

Thank you for the great songs and sharing your music with the world, R.I.P

Sources –,,

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