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

On May 24, Jamey 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 Estes, Charles Wesley Godwin, Emily Ann Roberts, Whitey Morgan, Ben Haggard, Drake White and Southall. More news will be revealed soon.