About the Song — “Johnny Marr”

This week, it’s “Johnny Marr,” for which Bret Hartley and Chris Glass Hartley created a live-ish video. Take a look.

For as long as I can remember, Blush and I have liked to joke around.

In August-ish of 2019, a Facebook friend of mine named James Smith commented on some post or other about how hard it was to write a song while living in your car.

Blush, clearly intrigued by the possibility, posted the comment:

“You’re never very far from living in your car.”

It’s Saturday, and I have to mow my lawn, but the prospect of writing a silly song on Facebook with Blush is too much, so I post:

“You’re already that much closer, when they open the bar.”

Blush adds another couplet rhyming “bar” with “Marr,” as in Johnny Marr, the guitar player from the Smiths, whom we both love.

With that nugget, to my mind, Blush has hit on the song’s theme. I add:

“Johnny Marr, Johnny Marr, I see how you are. You’re out there touring with Modest Mouse and actin’ like a star.”

So, we’re all chuckling on FB, but it’s time for me to mow the lawn, so I call it a day on the internet and head out for yard work.

So, I’m mowing the lawn, but I’m not really mowing the lawn. I’m finishing the song.

“Johnny Marr, tell me, sir, is that a minor third? Or are you going to keep it all a secret ’til you see fit, Johnny Marr?”

“Who needs their truck towed? Who needs their lawn mowed? I just need some coin to get me from here to there.”

“But when I hear that opening strain from Charming Man, man, I don’t even care.”

I have to stop mowing the lawn to run back inside and send these lines to Blush, who comes back with a line about Fix-a-Flat, a couplet rhyming “Tornado” with “Laredo,”and something about “setting them up and knocking them down on the dashboard of my home.”

A character has emerged, both me and not me, both Blush and not Blush. He’s a guy who wants to play guitar in the big time but instead is stuck in Laredo as a lawn guy/handyman who struggles to make ends meet and keep his drinking in check. While all this is happening, his favorite guitar player Johnny Marr takes a gig touring with Modest Mouse, and he doesn’t quite know how he feels about it.

So, that’s where “Johnny Marr” came from. Take a listen.

Big thanks to James Smith, Brian Blush, Bret Hartley, Kevin Leahy, Curtis Grippe, Chris Glass Hartley, and everyone else who helped bring the song to life.

Pick up “Johnny Marr” and nine others at bandcamp or at my website.

Laying down the law,


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Art Edwards is a cofounder of the Refreshments. His latest solo album, Loving Every Other Minute of It, came out in 2020, his latest novel, Badge, in 2014.

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Art Edwards

Art Edwards

Art Edwards is a cofounder of the Refreshments. His latest solo album, Loving Every Other Minute of It, came out in 2020, his latest novel, Badge, in 2014.

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