Written by Art Thompson for Guitar Player Magazine
It’s said that adversity breeds opportunity, and for Eric Johnson, the pandemic created just such an opportunity in 2020 to make a record – two in fact: The Book of Making and Yesterday Meets Today (Sire).
So how did he manage to pull off recording a trove of songs – 25 in all, including seven tracks that will appear on a third album called Take Outs – at a time when simply being a room together with actual musicians wasn’t possible?
“When my tour got cut two weeks short in March 2020, I came home, and everybody was kind of holed up,” Johnson says. “So I went to the studio and started going through my tape vault and finding bits and pieces that were anywhere from two-inch analog tape to digital files to even cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes, stuff that went back almost 25 years.
They were all little pieces that never were finished. I should say a couple of them were finished, but most needed a significant amount of overdubs.”
In keeping with how music gets released these days, Johnson’s record company devised a time-release scheme to build interest by giving EJ fans a taste of things to come on the forthcoming two albums, slated for release in July 29.
The first round of the six songs scheduled for early release include the instrumental “Soundtrack Life” (the first track on The Book of Making) and the pop-flavored title track “Yesterday Meets Today,” which aired on April 1.
In the same sequence of delivering one song from each record, they’ll be followed on May 6 by EJ’s soulful rendition of “Sitting on Top of the World” and “Love Will Never Say Goodbye.”
And on June 10, “Move on Over” and “To Be Alive” – a song Johnson co-wrote with singer/guitarist Arielle – will be the last to appear before the albums debut.
GP spoke with Eric Johnson about the process for making records from material that he’d stashed away, likely without thinking a time would come when he’d need to revisit all these demos and outtakes.