Friday, January 18, 2013

A Special Story

    I met Tim Johnson in the Summer of 2008 in Dubios, Wyoming; I was 15 years old. I had been contacted via MySpace about a songwriters retreat called "Horse and Writer". The retreat included a seven day stay at the beautiful Lazy L&B Ranch in a quaint little cabin, spending the mornings working with Number One Hit songwriters, and spending the afternoons riding horses. Since I was a minor at the time my wonderful Mother attended with me. We decided to make a road trip of it. 

    On the road trip I had packed a box full of CD's; maybe 50 or so. And over the duration of our trip, I played through everyone trying to find my number one favorite song (ever!) to share with my mom. After a few days in the car, we arrived in Wyoming and I never did find that song to show her. 

    I was a young songwriter at this point in my life and out of the handful of Hit songwriters that were leading this retreat I didn't really know anything they had written. About the second night there the Hit Songwriters did a writers round and each played one of their hits. When it was Tim Johnson's turn to play he picked up his guitar and started the intro to his song. When Tim started the first verse, tears immediately started welling up in my eyes. The lyrics sung, "She came home, 6 am." As soon as he started singing I realized that was the song I had been searching for for over two days to show my Mom. Tim Johnson was the songwriter of "I Let Her Lie." My favorite song of all time and I had no idea.

    Later on in the week, Tim asked me to play a song for him. I boldly decided to do my Dolly Parton cover of Jolene. He listened to it, was very nice, and then told me I sucked at the end. Little did I know at the time that this was what Tim considered constructive criticism! I felt a little defeated but Tim said it so nicely, as nicely as some one could say "you suck." He also said my song writing was "ok".

    By then end of the week I had made so many new friends and learned so much about songwriting and also riding horses. (Which that had been my first time.) At the beginning of the trip we all received little SEASAC notebooks. Before I left, Tim had snatched mine up and left a little note saying to keep in touch. 

    A month later I made my first trip to Nashville and of course called up Tim. Him, my Mom, and I met for lunch at Sushi-Yobi. I'm not sure exactly what happened that day at lunch, I am not sure what I did, I am not sure why it happened, and I don't think I ever will. However, by the end of our lunch meeting with Tim Johnson we had agreed to cut a record together. Six months later my album "Life's a Drama" was born.

    This very first song Tim and I cut was his song "Life's a Drama." The first day in the studio we were all shocked. Tim had originally said that I "sucked" but by the time we had finished cutting the song it was brilliant. The way Tim was able to give me perfect direction with my vocals, and the way we could work together in such harmony, (except when he said "stop using your Holiday Inn voice!!), it was like magic. 

    My twentieth birthday is in a week (Tim's is actually three days after; the Aquarius thing worked out!). Tim was in my life for almost five years. In a sense, I grew up with Tim in my life; the ages between 15 and 20 are crucial years. They were the perfect years for him to be there. Not only did he help shape me as an artist, fine tune my craft of songwriting, and teach me how to be smart in the music industry (and much much more), Tim taught me so much about life. He gave me advice about relationships, (made fun of my boyfriends who I ended up dumping- Tim you were always right!) about how important family is, and how to take time to enjoy this world amongst the busy lifestyle of this industry (or any industry for that matter).

    When Tim was diagnosed with cancer, I never had a doubt in my mind that he wouldn't make it through. In my mind we would always be creating music together, team Tim and Hannah-always. (Or as we called each other by our nick names, team T-Dawg and Monkey.) I never thought any differently and I don't think he did either.

    Tim passed away from cancer this past October. During the summer we were able to cut 6 songs for the new record. I am so proud of these songs and so was he. And I know he still is as he is looking down on me from heaven. I was right when I told myself that we will always be making music together because he will always be here with me, it just wasn't exactly the way I wanted.

    I miss Tim everyday I breathe, every note I sing, every lyric I write, every strum on my guitar I miss him. I always will. Never to be replaced. I truly believe Tim was such a huge part of who I am today, not only as an artist but as a person also. The memories that we share go on and on and I could tell stories of our adventure for hours. I could tell you about how much we both loved food, our scary subway moments in New York, when we went on a run in LA and he almost passed out from trying to beat me. The smiles and laughs we shared are countless.

    I am writing this because I wanted to share a little bit about Tim and I's story and also express how much this new music means to me. It would be correct to say that theses 6 songs are the last that Tim and I will ever get to create together but I know that that is not true.

    I love you Tim; always and forever will your spirit weave through the soul of my music. 

Love, Hannah


Bonnie Story said...

Hannah this was wonderful. What an incredible relationship. I got to meet you in Quilcene in September. You opened with a few great songs one of which was "Music in my Blood" I believe, great song, was that one of your collaborations? Thank you for sharing so openly about how great it is to have someone to rely on who can be so real with you. I'm so glad he touched your life.

Anonymous said...

What a touching story... "I Let Her Lie" is one of those songs that *never* fails to bring a tear to my eye (same with "I'll be true to you" by the Oak Ridge Boys, but I digress). I am so sorry for this tremendous loss, as I can tell what a huge impact he had on you. I lost my mom almost 3 years ago, and the way I pay tribute to her every day is to work hard, be kind, and most of all, take chances. I have a feeling that you will do the same for Tim, and his memory will live on through you. You are such a beautiful soul! Thank you for sharing your story. ~Raye