By Damian Fanelli | Photo: Max Crace
Thirty years after his 1986 breakthrough, Tones, Texas guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic album. The disc, dubbed EJ, will be available this Friday, October 7, via Provogue.
Today, we bring you the exclusive premiere of one of the songs from EJ: an instrumental steel-string burner called “Once Upon a Time In Texas.” You can check it out below.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life,” Johnson says. “This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side.
“I just want to expand my musical offerings, which to me is to keep experimenting, pushing on electric and pontificating on what it can be. Doing the acoustic thing is good medicine for me. There’s no mascara to hide behind and nothing to cloak the real value of what’s going on. If you don’t have good song, you don’t have anything.”
On the original compositions “Wonder,” “Fatherly Downs” and “All Things You Are,” Johnson plays his 1980 Martin D-45. He plays the steel-string on his instrumentals “Once Upon a Time in Texas,” “All Things You Are” and “Song for Irene.” He conjures the beautiful, pensive tones of “Serinidad,” another original instrumental, on a Ramirez nylon-string model.
A spirited steel-string arrangement of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” rounds out the solo guitar tracks. Johnson also arranged Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” for voice and piano and plays piano on the originals “Water Under the Bridge,” “November” and “Wrapped in a Cloud.” He rearranged Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish” for guitar and piano, capping the performance with a jazz-inflected piano solo. He also covered Les Paul and Mary Ford’s “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.”