Gonzo songwriter Johnny Dango’s music is a confluence of country and rock, with a hefty sense of self-satire. His sound ranges all of tornado alley, from the folky roots of Stillwater to the gospel soul of Tulsa. Acoustic social critiques, intellectual southern and psychedelic country have become his trademarks. He’s shared the stage with greats like Wayne Kramer of MC5, Jerry Jeff Walker, Alejandro Escovedo, and Billy Joe Shaver.
On his new album Dear Everybody, I Love You (out 1/18), he battles with the concept of time, and questions his efficacy as a songwriter. He asks out loud whether playing barroom rock is the sole benefit he’s meant to provide, or if this is just another vanity project keeping the news cycle of elections and reality television alive. He’s made sure to examine himself with as much humor as he has the world around him.
Dango tells stories like a philosopher asking life’s important questions. His songs are country western koans, meditative riddles that may pave the way to enlightenment, though they have no right answer. He was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a bookworm with sensitive antennae, able to observe the world around him and translate it into writing. The OSU English major had a bent for journalism but was “bit by the songwriting bug” by the time he played his first gig. He moved on to Austin, and took jobs as a substitute teacher, waiter, cook, bartender, and blackjack dealer to support his music making habits.
His uproarious record Recluse In Plain Sight from earlier this year accentuated his ability to synthesize his influences. His latest was recorded live in studio at The Bubble over three days with friends in Austin. It captures an immediacy: “these are songs I knew really well. I’d been playing them for myself a lot, in my living room, and a couple of them were older tunes I’d had for awhile. The band learned the songs fast. Every track we used was the second or maybe third take”—an impressive accomplishment considering the songs are potently psychoactive, conjuring cinematic visions.
Glide is proud to premiere Johnny Dango’s “Too Late” (below) off Dear Everybody, I Love You, a hooking composition that mixes his earnest delivery with junkyard pop that is part Beck and part Waylon. Dango has a surreal knack for melody while honing an Americana troubadour aura that is equally enchanting.