January 20, 2011
When I was a very young child, maybe five or six, there was a song that used to scare me a little bit: “Maneater.”
When Hall & Oates sang about her only coming out at night and warned, “Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up,” my literal little mind thought she was a monster that was going around eating people. It creeped me out.
Somewhere tonight, there must be another small boy or girl listening in terror to Jamey Johnson’s “Heartache.”
Written in the first person, no less, it has Johnson playing the role of heartache, which is “hungry and huntin’ someone I can eat alive.” Johnson is all evil and growling as he vows to chow down on a cheating man later on, after he finishes “gnawin’ on your pretty little wife.” If this is what heartache is truly like, it’s no wonder Suzy Bogguss failed to reason with it.
This is a record that could only be pulled off convincingly by Jamey Johnson. I wrote recently that, like with Miranda Lambert, I get confused when he splits the difference between playing a character and being authentic and real. Johnson is in full character mode here, and it’s the musical equivalent of Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter. It’s creepy, off-putting and deeply uncomfortable to listen to.
Written by Jamey Johnson and Rivers Rutherford