Jamey Johnson – “High Cost of Living”

Jim Malec | January 28th, 2009

Jamey Johnson - High Cost of LivingSongwriters: Jamey Johnson and James Slater.

Jamey Johnson’s outlaw persona may be exaggerated for effect (word is that he never actually pulled a shotgun on a radio programmer, demanding that his music be played, as rumored), but when it comes to his music, Johnson’s outlaw cred is well earned.

Johnson’s second single from That Lonesome Song is hardcore outlaw music that makes “In Color” sound like the national anthem of the United States of Pansy. A double-shot of unadulterated truth, “High Cost of Living” makes no apologies, cuts no corners and softens no image.

The story of the rise and fall of a pot-smoking, coke-using, whore-screwing rebel, “High Cost of Living” brilliantly illustrates how addiction can take hold of a person and thrust a life into a downward spiral that ends in the loss of everything of value–from a job to a home to a relationship– all culminating in the realization that “the high cost of livin’ ain’t nothing like the cost of livin’ high.”

Not exactly a cheery sentiment, but this ain’t your newfangled, everything-will-be-ok radio country. If “High Cost of Living” were a movie, Taylor Swift wouldn’t be able to get in without a parent.

If radio actually has guts enough to spin this track (which, frankly, is hard to imagine considering a number of stations refuse to play “Cheater Cheater” because the word “ho” is too controversial), hearing it alongside the fluff purveyed by the likes of Kellie Pickler and Rascal Flatts will illustrate just how talented Johnson is as a songwriter–and just how hollow the rest of the format is.

In fact, by the power vested in me and on the merits of this release I hereby absolve Jamey Johnson of his “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” sins. There’s not a single insubstantial word in “High Cost of Living,” a song so meaty that it rivals the best of its ilk—ever. This is not a good song, this is a great song—hands down, undeniably, case closed.

Johnson’s deep twang sounds fully at home here, his performance less grating than on “In Color,” which, though effective, seemed somehow out of character and found Johnson pushing vocally at times. In the midst of the song’s lush but well-spaced arrangement, Johnson’s voice comes alive with character, proving that unlike so many so-called outlaw singers, he’s a true original as opposed to the echo of a bygone era.

I just wish I could be there to see the face of the first soccer mom who hears “I traded that for cocaine and a whore” while she’s driving her kids around in a minivan, expecting to hear “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful.”

Thumbs Up

Listen: “High Cost of Living” on MySpace

  1. Kelly
    January 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

    AMEN! easily my favorite track on the disc, without question.

    Funny note about that song: I was in Nashville a couple of weeks ago waiting to board my plane sitting near enough to the Tootsie’s airport branch location to hear Matt Mason (former Nashville Star finalist) sing this song. I chuckled as i figured it would go right over the heads of the businessmen and families sitting in the place eating burgers and waiting on their flights, but lo and behold, when Mason finished the song, the applause that errupted was far greater than for any other song he played while I was sitting there (including the sing along classic, “You never even called me by my name”)…I doubt that display guarantees radio success, but it proves that this song does indeed speak to people in ways that a lot of other fluff will never be able to do…

  2. Russ
    January 28, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Yea, this is an absolutely awesome song but there is no way I’ll hear it on anything but my iPod.

  3. Zach
    January 28, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Almost seems like a waste of a single, though. Now we go five months without hearing him on the radio (assuming many stations refuse to play it). How is that any better than releasing a different single and just leaving this as the superior album cut?

  4. Kent
    January 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I vocals come off as kind of boring to me, but I’ll admit that I’m very impressed by those lyrics. The ending is almost haunting.

  5. Dan Milliken
    January 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    OK, there’s no question that this is fundamentally a very strong song and that it puts 99% of its mainstream peers to shame. I’m not going to argue that, and I’ll be shocked if I hear more than four or five better mainstream singles in 2009.


    I think it’s jumping the gun quite a bit to say it’s “so meaty that it rivals the best of its ilk—ever,” unless of course by “meaty” you mean “full of lots of really unfortunate cold-hard-reality stuff,” which this song very much is.

    But is it a totally natural, artful packing-in of all those “meaty” things? I don’t think so. I think Johnson strains a bit to shock you with his exploits (especially the unnaturally blunt “cocaine and a whore” bit – seems like someone who really experienced the high of those things probably wouldn’t be so matter-of-fact in describing them) and even more so to spell out out the complex psychology surrounding those choices (I would much rather that he showed me how he “didn’t have to think or talk or feel” than just flat-out tell me. I hate lines that sound ripped from therapy sessions).

    And that’s why I don’t think you can quite compare this song to something like “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which does a lot more showing than telling (though there is admittedly some of both) and just generally sounds like a more focused, natural recount of things (to me, at least). “High Cost of Living” is a very bold attempt to live up to that level, it has moments of undeniable brilliance, and I admire Johnson a great deal for it. But let’s not get hasty with how highly we treat this effort, because while that might generate an excitement high, it’s not fair to anyone – Johnson himself included.

  6. Brady Vercher
    January 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I fall somewhere between Jim and Dan on this song and though I made the comparison to “Sunday Morning Coming Down” in my album review, I mentioned that it doesn’t quite live up to that pinnacle.

    But is it a totally natural, artful packing-in of all those “meaty” things? I don’t think so. I think Johnson strains a bit to shock you with his exploits (especially the unnaturally blunt “cocaine and a whore” bit – seems like someone who really experienced the high of those things probably wouldn’t be so matter-of-fact in describing them)…

    I can understand the thought that packing so much “meat” into the song isn’t artful, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it to to be straining for shock, but rather the blunt words of someone who doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I think what’s more shocking than anything is the honesty of the line. This is a guy who feels like he has to turn to drugs to cope with the rigors of life, so he’s not really expressing a whole lot of remorse, he just realizes that the cost of living high is worse than dealing with life’s problems.

    and even more so to spell out out the complex psychology surrounding those choices (I would much rather that he showed me how he “didn’t have to think or talk or feel” than just flat-out tell me.

    I’m not sure how he’d go about showing you those things rather than telling you. He’s already established that the cost of living life is high and that it’s just the same ol’ routine, so he’s telling us his reasons for using cocaine are that he doesn’t have to talk or think or feel the pressure of life. It seems to me to be a realistic explanation/excuse for getting high.

  7. Karlie
    January 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I heard this on a mainstream country station in Raleigh, N.C., two days ago and had to push the eject button on my CD player to be sure I wasn’t listening to his CD. It even played to the very end, with the random steel bit. It absolutely made my day to hear “cocaine and a whore” on the radio, though I’m interested to see if there’s a backlash to it.

    This is one of those songs that constructs a story so well that you can see everything playing out in the lyrics. I would argue its bluntness and shock factor illustrate very well the sometimes unfathomable choices a person makes under the influence.

  8. Creek
    January 28, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    This is country music. Period. Thank god for Jamey Johnson

  9. Creek
    January 28, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Man I just called up my local radio stations and had a talk with the Dj on playing this song, he flat out said he is scared to play it. So I asked him what is the diffrence in it and Joey N Rorey new song. They repeat ho in the chorus….he said its more of a catchy tune so it will slide. I said Country music isnt about catchy, its about being real, the best songs are the real ones that touch people. (bad word) country radio!!!

  10. Chris N.
    January 28, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    There is definitely a difference between “ho” and “whore,” especially in this context (i.e., Jamey is actually talking about an actual prostitute).

    I wouldn’t hold it against the label if they just edited the whole line out. Whatever it takes.

  11. Mike K
    January 28, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I don’t thing Jamey is going for the cheap “shock the audience” reaction with the line concerning cocaine and a whore. If you’ve ever met someone who has faced the type of demons that the character in the song faces and managed to somehow survive it, you will notice that they can be some of the most forthright people you will ever meet. It can at least be argued that the character in the song has seen the worst of this life and the sorst of himself and just doesn’t care to sugarcoat his actions when describing them to others. After all the lying and avoidance that addiction can bring, maybe this guys just wants to tell his story verbatim.

  12. Mike K
    January 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    As always, great review Jim.

  13. Hollerin' Ben
    January 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve eased up on this song from when I first heard it and thought it was completely ridiculous.

    but I’m still not thrilled with it. It’s still contrived and way heavy handed. I mean, the basic story is “I was feeling existential angst, so I turned to drugs, but I’ll tell ya, drugs a bad, mmmkay”.

    but it leaves out the key element – ok bro, so what do you do about the existential angst? the song starts out with him having all the “good things” a house, a job, a wife, and yet needing to turn to drugs because of his sense of emptiness. Then he tells this story of how “bad” he was (side note: this part of the story is silly, more on this later), then he ends up getting collared for possession and soliciting, then at the end he says “man, I lost all that stuff I had back when I felt a soul crushing emptiness that drove me to drugs”.

    that story sucks.

    as far the “I was bad portion” of the song, it’s mostly empty, artless shock value. In the church parking lot, is where I used to smoke my POT! Oooohhhhh. That’s heavy handed man. first off, unless you’re under the age of 18, I don’t know anyone who has to go seek out a random parking lot to smoke their dope, they just smoke wherever they are. So he purposely went to the church parking in some effort to smoke weed in an existentially significant way, or something. That’s lame.

    I mean, imagine if some guy was like “yaknow, I’m living hard man, sometimes, I drive to the church parking lot and then, you know what, I’ll smoke some pot and just look at the cross to remind myself of how I’m astray!” It’s like, dude, get over yourself.

    Then there’s the Cocaine and Whore reference that everyone thinks is the bee’s knees, but – as Dan said – it’s not good writing, it’s just stating things. Whereas Kris writes

    “I woke up Sunday Morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt/ and the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert”

    -lots of interesting turns of phrase, it’s clever, it’s engaging, it’s uniquely descriptive –

    Johnson’s version would seem to be something like

    “I woke up Sunday Morning, and man was I hungover, so I had a beer to ease the pain, and another one to do the same”

    I mean “my whole life went through my head, laying in that motel bed”, “I had a job and a piece of land, my sweet wife was m best friend”? That’s pretty unremarkable.

    so that leaves us with the content itself – the coke and the whore – to do the emotional work. and the thing is, I’m really not that shocked by that. If someone is preaching about how he was full-on living hard style, I’m assuming that Cocaine is the least of what he was into. I know that Lonestar or Joe Nichols would never touch the subject matter, but a return to simply mentioning Cocaine does not, in and of itself, signal a return to the level of significance found in Kris and Billy Joe and Waylon and Willie’s music.

    oh yeah, and the title is contrived, man. And, as always with Johnson’s record, the guitar solo is terrible, it’s like dude, tone, get some.

    so yeah, I mean, it’s trying for actual country music, so it deserves some cred, and I’d probably have given it a tentative thumbs up, but in my opinion it’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination.

  14. Chris D.
    January 28, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Ehh… This is my least favorite song on the CD. It’s just not my thing I guess. I also don’t like the way his voice sounds in this song, but that’s just my opinion.

  15. Chris N.
    January 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Ben, you’re a hard man to please.

  16. Hollerin' Ben
    January 28, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Hey man, it was Jim who called it “a double shot of unadulterated truth” and one of the best hard living songs of all time, and a “great song, undeniably, hands down, case closed”.

    If he’d said, “this song is entertaining, and refreshing somewhat, and on the top end quality wise of mainstream singles these days” my comment would have been far different.

  17. Baron Lane
    January 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    A great song off a great album. This man just oozes cred.

  18. Kelly
    January 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Ben, I disagree with you on just about every point of your opinion.

    The “motel bed” line in Johnson’s song tells much more than just that he is in a “motel bed”. the mere reference of a motel bed is there to furhter augment the cold, lonlely isolation that he is feeling as he recounts those thoughts. as most peole will agree that by the way the song is going, its doubtful that he is at a sunny 4 Seasons resort, but more likely a sad, beaten-down roadside motor lodge that most folks wont link to happy and fun times, but with sadness, escape and heartbreak. Johnson is painting every bit the picture that Kristofferson paints as he talks about a dessert for his breakfast. It isnt that hard to accuse just about any song of simply listing thoughts and not painting an extrememly vivid portrait by your guidelines.

    Also, I dig the title. Simply because its catchy or even cute to a point doesnt automatically qualify it as “contrived”. There is indeed an artfulness involved with being catchy while still hitting home with the actual point of the song, which Johnsons clearly does in this case. To use your example, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is as dry, literal and yes, unimaginative as a title can possibly be.

    For the record, I love “sunday morning coming down”, so please dont confuse my comment for anything less….

  19. Jim Malec
    January 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Johnson’s not going to the church to smoke pot because he has nowhere else to smoke it, he’s going there to smoke pot while he prays because he wants to be at the church. There are a number of implications we could draw out from that action–in fact, we could deconstruct that passage in at least a half-dozen ways.

  20. Charlie
    January 28, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I love Jamey! I saw him in Nashville when i was interning at Warner. So great!

  21. idlewildsouth
    January 28, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Great Review Jim. I agree on pretty much anything you said.

    @ ben: I agree with what Kelly and Jim said in reference to the hotel bed/church parking lot lines. I have a dear friend deep in the throes of alcoholism who fits into the church line perfectly.

    When he says “My whole life went through my head, laying in that motel bed, watching as the cops kicked in the door” hes not just saying the cops kicked in the motel room door, hes saying they kicked it in and he just sat there and watched.

  22. Ashley
    January 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Great review of a great song. Good work.

  23. Rick
    January 28, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Jim wrote: “I just wish I could be there to see the face of the first soccer mom who hears “I traded that for cocaine and a whore” while she’s driving her kids around in a minivan, expecting to hear “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful.”

    Jim, I’d rather see the expression on her face when 3 year old Timmy in the front passenger seat asks her “Mommy, what’s a whore?”. (lol)

    Well I guess its safe to say this is a “controversial” single in this day of Top 40 Wussy country radio. I hope this song kicks in the door at timid Top 40 stations like those cops in the motel room and roughs them up a bit. Alison Bonaguro wrote a recent CMT blog entry where she had to research the meaning behind the term “eight ball” in this song. Will other soccer moms be so diligent and not be horrified at the answer? Hmmmm….

  24. PaulaW
    January 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Well – I finally got a chance to listen to this one. And, first I’ll say his voice is only slightly better than on “In Color”. At least he doesnt sound like he has a was of tobacco in his mouth this time.

    As for the song. I think it’s a helluva a hook – but the song comes nowhere near living up to the hook. I think the line about trading his sweet wife for a whore might actually be the best line in the song (other than the hook), not for the “shock factor” but because it’s really the only decent comparison in the song.

    Suffice it to say, I just dont think I’ll ever be jumping on the Jamey Johnson bandwagon. He’s good. Better that some. But he doesnt come near to living up to the hype.

  25. Razor X
    January 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Jim wrote: “I just wish I could be there to see the face of the first soccer mom who hears “I traded that for cocaine and a whore” while she’s driving her kids around in a minivan, expecting to hear “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful.”

    They’ve heard far worse than that on TV.

  26. Dan Milliken
    January 28, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Regarding the cocaine/whore bit, Brady’s idea that that’s just how this character would phrase it seems fair enough. But something about the line still feels off to me, and I think it’s that it just seems to pile on more “badass” imagery at the last minute without the same thoughtful explanation given to the pot use.

    I don’t mind leaving something to the imagination, but it’s just inconsistent in context. I would have appreciated hearing a little more about how he spiraled from habitual pot use to being busted for cocaine/prostitutes instead of it being an abrupt leap, because as it is right now the cocaine/whore line seems more like a cool tag-on than a well-developed part of the story. I can see where others might find that “leap” to be a cool narrative choice, though.

    As to that “think or talk or feel” line, like I said, I just don’t care for song lyrics that sound ripped from a pop-psychology pamphlet, and I don’t know about y’all, but I swear I’ve heard variations on the “people do destructive things so they don’t have to feel bad feelings/deal with real life” angle like a jillion times.

    So it could just be my annoyance with that super-obvious idea, but I would have liked it better if he had found some way to imply the escapism through further description of his actions, or at least found a more interesting, open-ended way to phrase it that left us with something we as listeners could interpret ourselves. I guess that’s what I mean by “show, not tell” in this case. As it is now, it’s like this song is a character study that tells you the “correct” interpretation upfront (“see? I’m using drugs to escape my feelings”) instead of letting you dig into the material yourself, which consequently paints a bit of a one-dimensional picture. And that’s the issue I have with so much pop-country, too, though obviously to a much worse extent.

    In any case, looking back over the lyrics for this discussion reminded me of just how many truly excellent moments there still are in this piece, so I still say “well done Jamey Johnson, keep on truckin’, hope someone plays your song.”

  27. Stormy
    January 28, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Actually, the cocaine and whore are the perfect languauge for the song. Most recovering addicts are artlessly blunt about their addictions. If you go to recovery and try to pretty up the image, you get slapped down pretty quick.

    But more than that they are the perfect words for the song. They carry the heft that fits the song. To water them down would be to lose the language of the song, and the language of the song is everything.

    The pot/church verse is a bit heavy handed, but its not done for shock value. Its done as metaphor. It shows the struggle of the addict between seeking the higher power he needs to quit, which is also the higher power he was raised on. Its significant that not just any church will do, it has to be that one Southern Bapist Parking lot. Ultimately the search for that higher power is lost, and he returns to the higher power in control of his life.

  28. Mirandas2cool
    January 28, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Wow! I really hope radio plays this (yeah right). This is real music with real lyrics.

    “I just wish I could be there to see the face of the first soccer mom who hears “I traded that for cocaine and a whore” while she’s driving her kids around in a minivan, expecting to hear “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful.”

    If they here that they might realize they are listening to country music and not the freaking Disney channel!

  29. Brady Vercher
    January 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Dan, I don’t think the song is about the progression from habitual pot use to cocaine and I don’t think there’s a “leap” anywhere in the song. In fact, a reference to cocaine use, or some sort of stimulant, is dropped before pot is even mentioned. The opening lines of the first pre-chorus (or whatever you call it) talk about not sleeping for three days at a time, then the eight ball referenced in the verse just after the pot verse is another reference to cocaine. He’s already a habitual user of both substances, so I’d consider it a natural progression of the storyline rather than cramming more imagery in there.

  30. Drew
    January 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I don’t know. I like what Johnson is doing and am generally a fan, but just don’t think this is the song to follow up “In Color” with. He’s on the cusp of something really big right now in country music and I think if he picked the right song that could continue to display traditionality as well as have radio appeal then he could really accomplish something… but I don’t see that happening with the attitude of this song.

  31. Todd
    January 28, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    This is my favorite song on the album and i always hoped this would be released as a single, but figured his label wouldn’t have the balls to do so. Bravo Mercury!!!!

    Zach and Drew I understand your comments as I figured Jamey would release “Between Jennings And Jones” and “Mowing Down the Roses” both of which should have easily charted if released as follow-ups to “In Color”, then maybe they would release this song as a fourth single with no real expectancy of it ever charting. It is nice to see something released not because it will be a great chart hit, but because it is a great song though!!!!

  32. Dan Milliken
    January 28, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Well you might have me there, Brady. I’ll admit I didn’t know the eight-ball was a cocaine reference (seemed to work pretty well as a metaphor for relinquishing control over one’s own fate), and I didn’t gather that the three-day streak might be related to hard drugs versus general “wild” living (never really registered that cocaine could do that, although it definitely makes sense). Shows what I know.

  33. Creek
    January 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

    There is no diffrence between Ho and Whore. They are the same thing.

  34. Creek
    January 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

    The songwriting is brilliant, most of the lines have multiple meanings, this guy is the best thing to hit nashville in years, but i dont expect mainstream radio and rascall flatts fans to understand that.

  35. Stephen H.
    January 29, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I’ll be convinced of hypocritical-ness if WUSN in Chicago refuses to play the song due to content … they are the producer of a nationally-syndicated new releases show, and were previewing a few tracks of Pat Green’s “What I’m For,” and I could have sworn I heard an uncensored sh** slip through (it was in “Footsteps of Our Fathers,” if that song has any profanity in it).

  36. Brady Vercher
    January 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Stephen H, I remember hearing that slip through on the Pat Green disc and thinking about how how funny it was because they changed bullshit to BS in the new version of “Carry On.” I guess they had to groom it for a single.

  37. Dr. No
    January 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I love songs with double meanings. This song is saturated with them. I knew what an “8-ball” was when he said it.

    They played it here in Nashville on WSIX and those that called in rated it about an 8.6 total. Two women called in where one gave it a 2 and the other gave it about a 6 so I’m assuming they were soccer moms. Either that or whores.

  38. Dr. No
    January 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    One more thing. Some guy called in and gave it a 10. He added something to the effect of, “It’s real. Some people might not like to hear it but it’s the truth.”

  39. Sgt K
    January 31, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I just wondered why Hollerin Ben likes using the word existential so often?

  40. AmyP
    February 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Sorry but I don’t see Jamey Johnson sitting around a conference room worrying about missing out on some big opportunity because he selected the wrong song to release to radio! This man can write, deliver it to an audience and be successful…just ask the sold-out crowds he and his band play to every night!!

  41. Kid
    February 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Awesome. Excellent sum up of the song. I work at a radio station in south Georgia, 92.9 WAAC and we’re actualy giving this spins. So far no complaints, but then we’ve also been told we’re not allowed to play it before 7pm. Regardless, we played it the first time and within two minutes of the song ending and five calls from listeners saying they “f***ing loved it”.

  42. hwatersh3
    February 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    let me just say Jamey is great at everything he does rather it is writing, singing or performing. Stop trying to pick apart his words and just listen to a great singer. his whole message is you dont need to turn to drugs to get out of an ugly sitution. I live in Alabama and I know they are not going to play it. I really wish they would because people need to hear it and they can relate to this song. Its not just drugs you can turn to when you have problems it can be alcohol, pills, porn, whores, gambling or just anything that takes your pain away. Everybody needs to learn if you dont like to song you CAN ALWAYS CHANGE THE STATION why must people bitch about so much.

  43. caroline
    March 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Hey — soccer mom here who not has not only listened to this CD in the truck on a loop for 3 months, but has “High Cost of Livin’” as my ringtone. You should see the look on the other soccer moms faces when my phone rings during practice.

  44. PAT
    March 6, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Late to the party here, but……
    I understand the “Sunday morning coming down” comparisons but think youve got the wrong song..I think the whole first verse in “That Lonesome Song” draws a better parallel. But what matters is not what it does in comparison to Cash, it’s what it does for you listening right now. I think the most brilliant line in the whole song and maybe the whole album is …”staring at that giant cross just reminded me that I was lost, and it just never seemed to point the way”. If you cant get a visual there, you aint right! Admire the stubborness, but I think releasing “That Lonesome Song” (great tune) would have been an excellent bridge from “In color” to “High cost of Living” . Love it all, though. This is the first CD I’ve owned in a LONG time where I feel cheated if I don’t listen from beginning to end.

  45. byrdie
    March 8, 2009 at 7:27 pm


  46. Jules
    March 29, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I love the song. It almost reminds me of some Hank songs … (I really like Jamey but hes not there with Hank just yet.) I like some of the old country songs. I think he is a great artist. Its not like the song is saying “come do coke and a whore”, I actually heard this on a radio station The first time I heard it. I was shocked, not because of the song but because I never thought a station would play it. I LOVE THAT STATION…AND I LIVE IN ARKANSAS.

  47. Emgee
    April 11, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Even in a review of Jamey Johnson, you couldn’t resist the urge to get a dig in at Rascal Flatts, could ya?

  48. Tom Strande
    April 24, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    What does the main lyric actually mean??

    The high cost of living aint nothin like the cost of livin high.


  49. Vicki
    April 25, 2009 at 7:01 am

    It means that you can struggle through the high cost of living by using your brain and reality and what you need to save to get by or to pick up that extra job…but it’s nothin like the cost of livin high..meaning on drugs/weed etc You lose your memory, your time, probably your job, your wife..your life..and yes if the cops catch you, you go to jail.

  50. Paul Morgan
    May 3, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I want to buy the CD. Where and how?

  51. merlefan46
    May 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Okay you all here finally sold me on Jamey. I just ordered both cds.

  52. merlefan46
    May 3, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Hey Jim Malec,

    I agree with your statement about his Honky Tonk Badonkadonk sins. Cause it was a bad one.

  53. Kathy in Texas
    June 5, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    EXACTLY – describes my X exactly!!! and actually over half the men I know. I LOVE Jamey Johnson.. thank God I live in TEXAS where they play his songs constantly!!!

  54. Alyssa schroeder
    June 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    everytime i hear this song i get goosebumps all over my body its real and deep. the lyrics are awesome.it’s like a johnny cash feel. . deep awesome real!its stupid not to play it on the radio

  55. Batman001
    June 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I heard this on the radio

    But thats Texas for you


  56. yorgos ware
    March 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    The quite straight-forwardness of the lyrics used in this song demonstrate that Jamye obviously never intended that persons absent from drugs get them. It was written for addicts and the language is native to the subject. As a singer/songwriter for 32 years, this is a prime example of not giving in to political correctness to sell a song. I applaud his decision. Thank you Jamye!


Juli Thanki on WAMU's Bluegrass Country

Tagged In This Article

// //

Current Discussion

  • Jack Hanford: For those who are interested, there is a new 90-minute documentary video about Tompall & the Glaser Brothers on DVD …
  • joe morris: how come nobody mentions his fan club which started 1950 and was called the " the penny pushers " which …
  • jane: I'm reading this article in 2013 and I've yet to hear anything from the album played on the radio.....
  • Catwandy: I guess Matt C. is eating his well-deserved crow 'bout now. Critics....gotta love 'em , bless their little hearts.
  • Ed McClendon: Saw the brothers in Greeley CO on the occasion of Tompall's 50th birthday. The show wasn't well promoted and there …
  • Roby Fox: I'm sure no one else will know, or even care about this little tidbit of trivia. "Keep Your Change" was …
  • kate wonders: Roni Stoneman is still on Hee Haw every Sunday night on RFD channel.
  • Marsha Blades: Tommy, You were so kind to me during a tough time in my life and I don't think I ever …
  • Leona Jones: I seen Chris at the Grand Ole Opry last week.. First time I have heard of him.. He rocked the …
  • Sonicjar Music: Agree with Lucas, But one thing is certain, for a song to come to existence, so many things have to …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • Blind Boys of Alabama - Take the High Road
  • Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band - American Legacies
  • Aaron Lewis - Town Line
  • Josh Kelly - Georgia Clay
  • The Gibson Brothers - Help My Brother
  • jesse-brewster_wrecking-ball
  • Lucinda Williams - Blessed
  • Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers - Hymns from the Hills