The early morning light falls
on a window in the hall
and she was sittin' in the kitchen
on a chair against the wall
and I think
it mighta been october
I'm not sure
I just knew it was getting colder

She writes a letter to her lover
still asleep beneath the covers
and a leaf outside a window
in the wind just kind of hovered
for a moment
then it started blowing
and like that leave
she was set on going

And she wrote
"I know when you waken
you will find
I've been most unkind
but just as I was
your first love
well, you know Johnny he
he was mine, he was mine
Johnny was mine

I never told you 'bout him
'cause he was in the county pen
for a hold up at a filling station
someone said he killed a man
and lookin' at 9 to 90
took all i had
to leave Johnny behind me

The other day while you was working
I was ironing my shirts
and heard a rumblin' in the driveway
and when i pushed aside the curtains
on the window in the parlor
well, there was Johnny
on the porch
lookin' like a hundred dollars

Well it seemed his lawyer knew the mayor
someone owed someone a favor
and so Johnny got out early
on account a good behavior
and now he makes an honest living
he's got a job somewhere in Boston
and he wants me with him.

Now in Johnny's glove compartment
There's a lease for an apartment
It's a little further north
than i'd wanted
but the road department's
payin' 50 dollars a day
and that' just enough for
me and Johnny and a baby"

And she wrote
"I know when you waken,
you will find
I've been most unkind
but just as I was
your first love
Well, you know Johnny he
he was mine, he was mine
Johnny was mine.

Well there's more to tell you but
I think i hear Johnny's truck
and I'll be halfway up the freeway
by the time you're waking up
and i just wanna say
I'm sorry
so long, good luck
and goodbye Charlie."

And she signed and sealed the letter
and she said goodbye forever
hesitating in the doorway
just to button up her sweater
she shivered
it was colder
now i'm not sure
it must of been october.

And she wrote
"I know when you waken,
you will find
I've been most unkind
but just as I was
your first love
Well, you know Johnny he
he was mine, he was mine
Johnny was mine."

Lyrics submitted by StickityWicket

Johnny song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentAlright! They posted it! Tried to find lyrics to identify the word in that "club compartment" line. Don't know what that is, but it's the only lyric in the song i can't make out, and I was given Jeremy's fantastic album by a friend years ago, and it lacked any liner notes. Anyway...

    This is perhaps one of the saddest songs i think I've ever heard. The lyrics alone are sad enough, but when you hear this song played and sung, its like having your heart torn out of your chest by a slow contraption designed for torture by Satan. With each passing verse it just hurts more and more and your heart goes out to each character, particularly Charlie.

    If you've ever been in a situation even close to this you know the heartache on display here. I don't even care if you were the "Johnny" of this situation, or the girl writing, or "Charlie" himself - there's simply just no winners here, if you ask me. It certainly sucks more for Charlie than Johnny, or even the girl, but this girl is gonna live with that guilt for a long time - Johnny well, that kind sucks getting bagged for something you didn't do (which i believe is the implication) and to have your true love torn from you and for her to go off and find someone new. I hope those two find true happiness together with their baby (perhaps the most heart wrenching line in the song) and that Charlie can put it all back together eventually. Poor Charlie.

    I know it may seem silly for me to be carrying on as though these characters as real people (and who knows, maybe they are) but that's that just a testament to Jeremy Wallace's songwriting. This song will hit you in every valve of your heart, and if it doesn't, i question the integrity of your heart and your status as a human and music lover.

    Jeremy Wallace is a fantastic songwriter and musician. His albums "My Lucky Day" (which Johnny is off of) and "She Used To Call Me Honey" are both incredible. I wish he would get some more exposure, and I'm just trying to do my part. Get the word out on this guy, if you are into country, folk or just plain old fashioned great songwriting, Jeremy Wallace is your man. Look for more soon.
    StickityWicketon February 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI found the song less heart-wrenching, but also stirring, deeply moving, profound. I felt more equanimity about the characters: the wheel turns, but life goes on. If the (unnamed) woman really is a wonderful as she sounds and Charlie found her; well then then he is a good -a wonderful- man himself and he will find another great woman.

    What draws me to this song is the poetic excellence. It is rare for a great poet and a great musician to be married in the same body. Jeremy Wallace is one. He has so many compelling images in this song:

    it mighta been october
    I'm not sure
    I just knew it was getting colder

    [I live in Minnesota, so this is redolent of associations.]

    and a leaf outside a window
    in the wind just kind of hovered
    for a moment
    then it started blowing
    and like that leaf
    she was set on going

    [Wow. What a poignant image of her state of pause, reflection and decision -- and the great pun on leaf / leave]

    Oh, I hear "club compartment" as "glove compartment"

    Other songwriter / poets I like are:
    The geniuses: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen

    But also
    Brett Dennon eg Darlin Do Not Fear.

    Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know
    'Cause it won't last - your worries will pass
    All your troubles they don't stand a chance
    And sometimes it takes more than a lifetime to know
    Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know

    Johnny Clegg eg The Crossing (Oziyeza)

    A punch drunk man in a downtown bar
    Takes a beating without making a sound
    Through swollen eyes he sways and smiles
    ’cause noone can put him down
    Inside of him a boy looks up to his father
    For a sign or an approving eye
    Oh, it’s funny how those once so close and now gone
    Still so affect our lives

    I wanted to get lyrics for all these songs, but too much time already.
    Jill Sobule eg The Resistance Song (a reincarnation song) or I Kissed a Girl
    Bob Seeger eg Against the Wind
    Richard Shindel eg On a Sea of Fleur de Lis
    Eddie Vetter eg Society
    Traci Chapman eg Change Your Life
    Dar Williams eg Iowa
    Indigo Girls eg Prince of Darkness
    Josh Ritter eg Harrisburg
    Natalie Merchant eg Motherland
    Slaid Cleaves eg One Good Year
    James McMurthy eg Charlemange's City
    Tom Petty eg Down South

    Et cetera. But again time will have its way. Maybe a longer annotated list elsewhere list

    TruthComesFirston July 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNow that's what i call a post. I agree. There's a whole lot of "moving on" going on here, and that will be going on after, but to me, that's even more heartbreaking. She knows what she's going to do, she knows why, and she knows why it's a terrible thing to do, but's her Johnny, and sorry Charlie, but i gots to go. And what can Charlie do? He didn't even have a chance. It was gone the minute it was there, never his to begin with, and he just didn't know it and wasn't even able to mount a defense. She's just gone.

    Also agreed, its his command of language that truly sets the song apart. The whole verse about her watching the leaf through the window is perhaps my favorite. Perfect writing, perfectly sang.

    Glove compartment! Of's like looking at an image you can't make out until someone points it.
    out and then you can't NOT see it after. How did i hear club compartment? I'll be honest, it made no sense when i typed it and i didn't even know what it meant. But, duh, retardo, in his truck, theres a lease in the glove compartment....pardon me,....i'm just an idiot. haha.

    Enjoyed the quotations. Good stuff. And yes, Dylan and Cohen are both geniuses. Quite fond of Nick Cave and Tom Waits as well in the songwriting department.
    StickityWicketon September 01, 2009   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top