My musical journey over the years has included some memorable moments. One of those was recording my first CD over 11 years ago on a shoestring budget as a wide-eyed, newly married college student. The songs on Piano Pop captured a unique period in my life, and releasing the album was a springboard to greater experiences.
I wrote all 11 songs over a couple of years during which I got engaged, got married and prepared to be a father. Reunion, for instance, came after I visited with friends whom I hadn’t seen in several years. Building Our Dreams and Before Tomorrow described the excitement of dating and falling in love with my sweetheart. Unspoken was written on a Christmas morning in gratitude for my family. But even with all of the major life events, this album captured a playful and downright silly side as well. I mean, take a look at the artwork! Most of the pictures came from my full-time church mission in Colorado. Little-known facts: The main shot on the front cover is standing on top of a peak on the eastern slope near Columbine (southwest Denver). The inset shot on the left where I am in a suit was taken at our wedding open house at my parents’ home in Houston, Texas. The one on the right was taken on the BYU campus. The picture on the back cover of the baby with the ginormous headphones is me. Don’t know the age.
Quite frankly, would I change the album cover if I had to do it all over again? Yes. However, at the same time, it represented my personality and passions in my early 20s and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that I don’t take myself too seriously. As further evidence, in the acknowledgment section in the liner notes I thanked Papa John’s pizza and Blue Bell ice cream. Little-known fact: I thank at least one type of food in the liner notes on every CD.
It’s true that I consider Piano Pop my first full-length album, but it’s a little-known fact that seven of the songs were first recorded over a year earlier on an album titled Before Tomorrow. A longtime family friend, Chris Gould, recorded that album as a favor to me at my parents’ home. I burned each copy by hand and tried to keep enough in stock when I performed concerts, mostly in and around BYU campus. In December 2000 while we were expecting our first son, I re-recorded those seven songs at Heritage Music in Orem, Utah and added four more – School’s Out, Restless, Building Our Dreams and Movin’ On. I recorded all 11 tracks for under $200. Little-known fact: The title Building Our Dreams comes from a lyric in Wedding Song by the Utah folk pop band Colors.
Recording the album was pretty exciting; it was a validation that I could actually pull it off. It was the fulfillment of a dream. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would be a launching pad to land some gigs and get my name out there. I had something tangible I could give to fans, other artists and the media. I used it to become an opening act for many of my favorite local artists – Peter Breinholt, Colors, Julie de Azevedo, Enoch Train, Cherie Call and others. It’s the only album I had on my website at the time that I was invited to perform at the Opening Ceremony Reception at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It would be over 6 years before my next album, so I did my best to make the most of those years. The fact is that songs like Serenade, School’s Out and Snow Angels will continue to be some of my favorites to perform live. These songs will always stick with me.
Thanks for letting me open up the memory vault and take a stroll deep into time. Here are some of the songs.
Before Tomorrow: http://soundcloud.com/jared-johnson-1/before-tomorrow
School’s Out: http://soundcloud.com/jared-johnson-1/schools-out
Snow Angels: http://www.pianobragsongs.com/wordpress/209/
Before Tomorrow: http://www.pianobragsongs.com/wordpress/before-tomorrow/
School’s Out: http://www.pianobragsongs.com/wordpress/schools-out/
First Rain: http://www.pianobragsongs.com/wordpress/first-rain/