With all the crazy happening in 2020 it has been a gold mine for songwriters. The ongoing theme this year is that artists have dropped real, honest and sentimental songs that make you, as the listener, stop and think. Country Music is a genre that always, at least to me, has honest, up close and personal lyrics. But in the craziness of 2020, these songs have made an even bigger impact. "Six Feet Apart" by Luke Combs, "Better Than Me" by Riley Green and "Worldwide Beautiful" by Kane Brown highlight this year's of meaningful songs. And the list goes on. Johno Clayton's debut single "Takes a Lot of Love" also falls into this category. Instead of the usual somber, slow delivery though, Johno delivers a much more upbeat approach, intertwined with those heart felt lyrics like "I say bless your heart, yeah we got reasons we made it this far" and "you know the facts are the facts, and the past is the past, it takes a lot of love to live with that".
Get To Know Johno
"Yeah man, I am from Chilhowee, Tennessee and I just moved to Nashville about two months ago. It has been something for me just to experience writing with some amazing people. I grew up in a small town right outside of Knoxville. My school growing up was K-12 in one building and the capacity of the whole school was about 800 people. Growing up in “small town USA” gave me a lot of inspiration to write songs. I got into both writing and playing music at 8 years old. I got that passion from my grandpa. He was injured really badly in a work accident. He’d played music all the time before the accident. Grandpa suffered a brain injury, so after that he had to learn to walk, talk and things like that all over again. The doctor told him he was never going to play guitar again. Fortunately he proved the doctor wrong and was able to pick it back up and re-learned how to play. To me, that was special and it was a second chance for me to learn how to play from my grandpa. Everything really just took off from there. My dad passed away when I was four and my brother passed away when I was 11. After that it was just me and my mom, and music was my way to cope and something I could lean on. I was never really good with words and telling people how I felt, but with music I could do that. Seemed people could understand where I was coming from. It really is something dude. Now I'm living in Nashville, moved here a couple of months ago. I’ve been waiting to get down here. When I turned 21, I quit my job - one that paid good money - but this is what I wanted. I was always playing and gigging Thursday, Friday and Saturday around my hometown, then started traveling out of town. Work got on my butt for missing days. My brother passed away when he was 21 and now I'm 21. I've seen first hand how special life can be and it's short and you have to take risks in order to be happy. Right then I quit my job. Now I love to wake up and go write a song and think about music 24/7. It's amazing, especially in 2020, to take a song and connect people no matter what race, religion, democrat or republican... whatever it is. For 3 minutes, a song can act as an escape and I think that's so important - especially in today's age."
Nashville's Best Kept Secret
Johno Clayton is a special talent and wise beyond his years. In all honesty "Takes a Lot of Love" has been my favorite song since it was released back on August 28th. It has been on replay ever since. Everything about this song is wholesome. Basically, it’s saying I am who I am and I'm proud of that. Even all the losses and missteps that come with it. The message in this song is so important in a society filled with greed and the pressure that comes with social media to always seem like we are "living our best life". In reality, life is filled with ups and downs. Everybody faces insecurities and hardships, but as soon as you accept them and say "fuck it", life becomes so much more special. Realizing each day is a gift goes a long way. The fact that this is Johno's debut single shows so much upside for the young man and how high his ceiling is. Johno speaks to listeners with his raw and genuine approach, and tops it off with a voice that will draw a crowd. Johno Clayton is a name I'm feeling will be talked about for a long time. Keep him on your radar.
Inspiration Behind "Takes a Lot of Love"
Written By: Johno Clayton, Produced By: Frank Legeay
"I actually wrote this one by myself when I was alone in my house. I was going through some crazy stuff, just in life in general. I had a girlfriend who I lived with for a few years and we split up. I was just sitting there writing and for a while I was focused on writing those sad songs. Those ideas kept coming to me, but I had all these deep feelings. Finally, I just wanted to write an upbeat song that still had a lot of meaning behind it. I was kind of like "I don't wish you bad, but I still have to get closure and move on... like facts are the facts and the past is the past, it takes a lot of love to live with that". I started to think, it isn't always the other person. Maybe you have to really feel for the other person because it takes a lot of love to love me. Like I said "I smoke and I drink and you'll tell me what you think, when I've been on the whiskey too hard", when I do find a girl this is all the things you need to know. I just love this song man."
Q & A With Johno Clayton
Q: Who's been your biggest influences that got you into music?
A: "I would definitely say my grandpa. Like I was saying, learning from him and having him teach me. My grandpa having to relearn how to not only play music, but also many of the basic things we take for granted, really inspired me. All of my life experiences really taught me how to write deep songs and where I got my maturity from. Yeah man, when I was 15, I started to focus on songwriting, I wanted to know how songs were being constructed and realizing these were based on people's real life experiences. I started to dig into some older guys like Jamey Johnson and Jonathan Singleton. Now looking at songwriters like Jonathan, Randy Montana and Ashley Gorley, there are a lot of unbelievable songwriters in Nashville and I'm blessed to know a few right now."
Q: Favorite show you've performed so far?
A: "Oh man, it was for sure a hometown show that I played this year. We got a place called Windy City and it's Chicago inspired. I love it! I've been playing there for years and to get all your friends and family packed in there before Covid, is such a good feeling. To see all your support right in front of you, it is amazing. I've had the opportunity to play some cool places like fairs and festivals, opened for Chuck Wicks and have been fortunate thus far to share the stage with some really cool people. My favorite shows are my hometown ones for sure."
Q: A song you wish you'd written and why?
A: "It's so hard, because I've been hearing some of my buddies' songs lately and am like "damn I wish I wrote on that song". I would probably say "The Singer" by Randy Houser. It portrays the life I've been living since I was 14. Especially when you get into a relationship with someone and the punchline is "she loved the singer, but couldn't live the song". Really wish I'd written that... but that's how it goes.”
Q: What's been the craziest night you've ever had?
A: "I would say the craziest had to be in South Illinois. We were there playing a show and it was a wild night. I had some buddies up there that I had met a few years before, when I was on a school trip. I’d had a fun night and then I walked on the beach. I saw this guy, my age, and he had beer cans all around him. Went up and started talking to him. We started to hang out the rest of the trip. His parents were bar owners in South Illinois and I‘ve stayed in contact with this dude. Now I go up there every single year. This time when I went up, he told me he had a surprise for me. This town only has 1100 people and we kept driving through these corn fields until we got to a strip club, which was an old elementary school. Kid you not, it was called "The School House". There was a school bus in the yard that was lit up and the strippers danced to Hank Jr. and Travis Tritt... you just can't make this shit up."