Jamey Johnson Will Release New Song, “21 Guns,” on May 24
Johnson will perform the national television debut of the powerful song "21 Guns" during PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert, which airs live nationwide on May 26 from 8 – 9:30 p.m. ET (check your local listings.) The concert is also streaming on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube, and can be seen by our troops serving around the world on American Forces Network.

Jamey Johnson Will Release New Song, “21 Guns,” on May 24

WASHINGTONMay 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ –On May 24Jamey Johnson will release his much-anticipated new song called “21 Guns,” which was inspired by attending the funerals of fellow Marines who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.

Johnson will perform the national television debut of the powerful song during PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert, which airs live nationwide on May 26 from 8 – 9:30 p.m. ET (check your local listings.) The concert is also streaming on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube, and can be seen by our troops serving around the world on American Forces Network.

“I wrote it because I have gone to too many funerals of Marines I served with that were just too young,” Johnson says. “When they die young, you always remember them that way, which is unfair. Guys that heroic that die that young deserve the right to grow old and they didn’t get to.

“But it is also being at those funerals and seeing their parents who seem much too young to have a child die in that way and wondering what must be going through their minds. This song is the answer to that question.”

The lyrics include:

Standing in this field of limestone

Watching flags wave in the air

You know we’d love to take you back home

But there ain’t no place like this there

A preacher stammers through a nice verse

Does his best to eulogize

But times like this there ain’t no right words

The rifles fire and your life flashes right before my eyes

But I don’t need no one to tell me you’re a hero

Hell, I’ve known that ever since you were young

There ain’t words to say how proud we all are of you, son

Nothing says job well done like 21 guns.

Johnson attended Jacksonville State University for several years before joining the U.S. Marines, serving from 1994 until 2002.

“Since I was a young child, I always knew I was going to be a Marine,” says Johnson, who reached the rank of corporal. “I knew when it was time to leave college and do my time in the Marine Corps. I signed up with a recruiter and went to Parris Island. It’s this same drive that I have today about doing this kind of song.”

He wrote ’21 Guns” with Nashville musician/producer/songwriter Jim “Moose” Brown about a year ago and has performed it several times during his concerts.  It will be released on his own label, Big Gassed Records.

“I wrote ’21 Guns’ because I have been feeling this way for years,” he says. “I want to put it out there because I think it will help. There may be somebody out there who doesn’t know how to express what they are feeling, and maybe this will help.”

Johnson has received emotional emails and letters from soldiers, veterans and their families who shared with him the difficulty of losing someone they loved so much.

“It’s especially hard to lose them when they are young and in the line of duty,” Johnson says. “It is even harder when they are overseas and you never got to say goodbye.”

He felt PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert, which will be hosted by actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, was the perfect setting for the song’s broadcast premiere.

“When I was asked to do a song for the Memorial Day concert, this was the first song that came into my mind because it is literally about Memorial Day,” he says. “I think this show is well worth doing.

“I love the fact that they gather that many people out there to celebrate the men and women who died to make our country what it is today. We do owe them a debt of gratitude and should stop what we are doing to be thankful for what they have given us. I am proud I get to be a part of it.”

This is the second in a series of announcements Johnson will make this year. Last month, he revealed that he will embark on the four-month What a View Tour. The tour begins on June 20 in St. Augustine, Fl., and makes stops in nearly 40 other cities. Support artists include Mae EstesCharles Wesley GodwinEmily Ann Roberts, Whitey Morgan, Ben HaggardDrake White and Southall. More news will be revealed soon.

About Jamey Johnson:

Jamey Johnson, who has received 11 Grammy nominations, is “one of the greatest country singers of our time,” according to The Washington Post.  He has received tremendous praise from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, many of which have hailed his albums as masterpieces.

His album That Lonesome Song was certified platinum for more than 1 million in sales, and his double album, The Guitar Song, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album charts and was certified gold. He also released the Grammy-nominated Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, which featured performances with Willie NelsonMerle HaggardAlison KraussEmmylou HarrisRay PriceElvis CostelloGeorge Strait and Vince Gill.

He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest country songwriters of his generation. He is one of only a few people in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year awards–for “Give It Away” and “In Color”–from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. His songs have been recorded by George StraitTrace AdkinsWillie NelsonJames OttoJoe Nichols and others.

He is also an in-demand musical collaborator. He recorded “I Forgive It All” for the Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tribute album, Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty, which will be released June 21. He and Elle Langley recorded “Young Love (Strong Love)” for A Tribute to the Judds that was released in 2023.

He was honored to be invited to turn two of Johnny Cash’s unfinished poems into songs. He completed “Spirit Rider” for the album called Forever Words, and he and Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, turned the late icon’s words into a song called “California Poem.”

About PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert:

America’s national night of remembrance, PBS’ NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for a special 35th anniversary broadcast. A tradition unlike anything else on television, the 90-minute broadcast honors the service of our men and women in uniform, military families and all those who have given their lives for our country through a unique blend of dramatic storytelling and uplifting music. Hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, both steadfast champions of veterans’ causes and active service members, the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will air on PBS and stream nationwide on www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and YouTube on Sunday, May 26, 2024 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T. The concert will also be available as Video on Demand, May 26 to June 9, 2024, as well as to our troops serving around the world on American Forces Network.