Cody Johnson’s Pilot Told Him ‘We’re Going Down’ — How a Near-Death Experience Shaped ‘Human’
Cody Johnson experienced a life-changing emergency this year that totally shifted his perspective. He was with his wife and his management team on a private plane headed to a NASCAR event when the pilot said, "We're going down."
"I said, ‘You mean we’re taking it down,'" Johnson recalls. "He said, ‘No, you need to prepare yourself. We’re going down.’"
Talking to Taste of Country Nights, the "'Til You Can't" singer explained how the plane's altitude went from 39,000 feet to 15,000 feet. Alarms were sounding, panels were coming off the wall of the plane. Final "I love yous" were exchanged. Watch as he tells the story and shares so much more about his life and how the new Human: The Double Album was created:
"I really sat there for about 30 minutes as the plane was going down, with my wife, like, ‘This is it. I love you,'" he shared of an incident that happened last summer.
"I’m thinking about things I regret. I’m thinking about things I could’ve done. Why did I tell my little girls I was too busy to get on the floor and play? Why didn’t I make that phone call and apologize to that person? Why didn’t I tell that person, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be Christian and not be perfect'? All those opportunities that I didn’t seize, and even my wife — why don’t I do these things?"
It's not fair to say Johnson's new single "'Til You Can't" was inspired by this near-tragedy — Ben Stennis and Matt Rogers wrote the lyrics, after all — but it's impossible to ignore how the lesson applies to the 34-year-old's life now. The lyrics describe things you put off for tomorrow as the things that are really important in life. So often in our culture, we urge one to do something before it's too late, meaning before mom, dad, grandma or grandpa die.
"If you got a chance, take it, take it while you got a chance / If you got a dream, chase it, 'cause a dream won't chase you back / If you're gonna love somebody / Hold 'em as long and as strong and as close as you can / 'Til you can’t," Johnson sings at the chorus of "'Til You Can't."
“What if it ain’t mama," the Texan says. "We’re not guaranteed the next minute."
This is the kind of urgency and vulnerability that stands out on Johnson's new album, his second through a partnership with Warner Music Nashville. The title track is one he points out as being the most emotional to record, while he admits to having heavy tears singing "I've Always Wanted To." A steady mix of love songs and rowdy honky-tonkers rounds out the two-disc collection, available now.