Watch: Jamey Johnson & Bill Anderson Perform George Strait Chart-Topper ‘Give It Away’ at the Opry

by Jim Casey
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Seventeen years after making his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2005, Jamey Johnson’s Opry journey has come full “circle.” Jamey was officially inducted into the Opry on May 14 by his mentor—and longtime friend—Bill Anderson. Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a Jamey-Bill collaboration. Fortunately, the tandem joined forces on the George Strait chart-topper “Give It Away,” a tune they co-wrote around the time Jamey was making his Opry debut.

After Jamey performed “School of the Fiddle and Steel” (the first song he played during his Opry debut in 2005), Bill and Jamey treated attendees to a rendition of “Give It Away.” Afterward, Bill presented Jamey with his official Opry trophy and welcomed him to the family.

“I don’t have to tell y’all what this means to me,” said Jamey, holding the trophy. “Any of y’all who know me, you know I’ve been talking about this since I was a kid. I ain’t a kid anymore, you can tell that by the gray in the beard. I’m so thrilled to have every one of y’all here tonight to help me celebrate. Thank you. Thank you.”

Jamey Goes Full Circle

Back in 2000, Alabama native Jamey Johnson moved to Nashville to pursue his singer-songwriter dreams. By 2005, Jamey had released his debut single, “The Dollar,” which peaked at No 14 on the country chart, and made his Grand Ole Opry debut. He released his debut album, The Dollar, in early 2006. However, a label merger left him without a record deal and his marriage began to fall apart around this time.

During his impending divorce, Jamey teamed with Bill Anderson and producer Buddy Cannon to pen “Give It Away.”

“I pretty much turned into a recluse for the better part of a year and a half,” said Jamey to Country Weekly magazine in 2007. “I just had some things I needed to sort out. But I also realized real quick that that ain’t healthy. You’ve got to break out of the cave and see the light of day every now and then.”

Daylight began seeping in when George Strait recorded “Give It Away.” George released the tune in July 2006 as the lead single to his album, It Just Comes Natural. By September, “Give It Away” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, giving George Strait his 41st chart-topping hit (which broke Conway Twitty’s all-time record).

“Give It Away” went on to win ACM Single of the Year and ACM Song of the Year. It also won CMA Song of the Year.

“The song was cut, got released to radio, went to number one, and won Song of the Year, all before my divorce was even final,” said Jamey in 2007. “I guess that’s gonna happen sometimes.”

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