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‘Jesus Loves You’ by Cody Johnson - Lyrics & Meaning

November 3, 2023 12:01 am GMT
Last Edited December 18, 2023 9:37 pm GMT

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Cody Johnson - ‘Jesus Loves You’

Label: CoJo Music / Warner Music Nashville

Release Date: November 3rd 2023

Album: Leather

Producers: Trent Willmon

Songwriters: Mark Holman, Chase McGill & Michael Hardy

The Background:

The beauty of this song is it's pretty much the opposite of what you expect when you see the title. Although the lyrics are undoubtedly underpinned by faith and spirituality, the overriding emotion that colours the song is rage, as the protagonist comes face to face with a man in prison that broke into his family's home.

Ahead of the release of Leather, fans seeing ‘Jesus Loves You’ as the title assumed this would be a soulful offering in the mould of ‘By Your Grace’, ‘Driveway’ and ‘I Can't Even Walk’.

Penned by HARDY, Chase McGill and Mark Holman, ‘Jesus Loves You’ shares the same dark, ominous atmosphere as HARDY and Lainey Wilson's chart-topping anthem, ‘wait in the truck’.

It's a simmering track that oozes gravitas and drama, with Cody Johnson staring his home-invader in the eyes through the prison glass, and essentially saying through gritted teeth that ‘Jesus sure must love you if he let you escape my house alive’.

The Sound:

‘Jesus Loves You’ opens with a seething electric guitar and an emphatic drum pattern, with the track providing the perfect opportunity for CoJo to utilise his weighty baritone to maximum effect.

As the track builds in intensity towards the crescendo, the electric guitars twist and distort as the protagonist's angst and frustration boils over, before Trent Willmon powerfully reduces the instrumental down completely, allowing CoJo to deliver one last warning shot across the prisoner's bows before leaving for good.

Following these menacing final lyrics, the electric guitars once again take the lead, with the instrumental carrying a newfound sense of freedom and potency, possibly symbolising how the ‘Jesus Loves You’ protagonist has found some closure following the conversation.

Despite the underlying aggression and anger that Cody Johnson and Trent Willmon lace into the track, there's also a subtle and touching softness that emerges during each hook as CoJo croons about his unwavering belief that the criminal can still be saved through faith.

The Meaning:

“You probably don’t remember me

Cause you were high and all strung out

But I’m the guy that spared your life last week when you broke into my house

No I ain’t been having nightmares

Just dreams of whipping your ass

I hear hard time it ain’t no fun, be thankful for that glass”

The protagonist begins by recounting how that fateful night unfolded when the man broke into his home. Cody Johnson underlines that the criminal might not remember everything that happened, due to him clearly being under the influence of drugs.

The protagonist explains how he decided against killing the assailant, but that he still feels a burning desire to see him get his comeuppance, with CoJo implying that, if the glass between the prisoner and the visitor was not in place, he'd be unable to restrain himself.

“I’ve rehearsed it in my mind

How things would go today

Practiced what I’d tell you

And all I got to say is”

He then stresses that he's been going over and over what he wanted to say to the criminal, which suggests that he's been apprehensive about the prospect of seeing him again.

“Jesus loves you

He’ll forgive you for your sins

And he’ll be there waiting for you

When your time on this earth ends

Yeah Jesus loves you

Buddy all it takes is faith

And if you come near me and mine again

You gonna meet him face to face”

The chorus sees Cody Johnson - somewhat reluctantly - showing grace and forgiveness as he doubles-down on his belief that Jesus must have had a bigger plan for the assailant, otherwise he'd have let him die at his hands during the home invasion.

There's still a lingering sense of resentment, which comes to the fore during the closing two lines of the chorus, when Cody Johnson emphasises that he won't give the criminal a second chance, should he ever see him again once he's been released.

“I bought you this bible

Don’t worry it’s on me

I know it’s a lot of pages

But you’ve got time to read

Cause the paper said you got 3 years

So while you’re in that cell

You better find a way to find him

Or I’ll send you straight to Hell, yeah”

Endearingly, the protagonist has brought the prisoner a bible, with Cody Johnson explaining that he hopes he uses his three years of jail-time to get in touch with his spirituality and find Jesus.

Through a clever piece of wordplay, CoJo again concludes on a less amiable message, with the ‘Til You Can't’ hitmaker delivering the ultimatum that if he fails to reconnect with his faith and repent, then he'll metaphorically send him ‘straight to Hell’, presumably by killing him.

“Our house is on the market

Cause my little girls can’t sleep

My friends all said they’da shot you dead

If they woulda been me

They all call you lucky

But I don’t believe in luck

The good lord was looking out for you

Cause my gun was in my truck, yeah”

In a track that is largely underpinned by a sense of fury and hostility, we get a heartbreakingly vulnerable insight into the upheaval the criminal has caused our protagonist. His young daughters are unable to sleep as they now live in fear of another attack, which has led the family to dig up its roots and move to another neighbourhood.

Cody Johnson reiterates how the prisoner should be thankful he'd left his gun in his truck on the night of the incident, with his buddies all claiming they'd have shown no mercy if they were in his shoes. CoJo ends by reaffirming his belief that this was an act of God, and that he therefore hopes the man ‘returns the favour’, so to speak, by reading his bible and expressing his gratitude and contrition through prayer.

What has Cody Johnson said about ‘Jesus Loves You’?

During a discussion with Billboard ahead of the new album's release, Cody Johnson shed some light on the meaning behind ‘Jesus Loves You’, “I think this song will raise some eyebrows, but you don’t get to sing about anger very often. It’s about a guy whose home is broken into, and he basically tells the person who broke into their home that he’s lucky he wasn’t killed while trying to break in. He’s basically saying, ‘God must’ve been looking out for you, but if you try that again, it’s over for you’”.

Elsewhere in the interview, Cody Johnson revealed that Jelly Roll was originally meant to sing on ‘Jesus Loves You’, but that, after linking up in the studio and hearing some of the other songs on Leather, he asked to duet with Cody on ‘Whiskey Bent’ instead.

For the full lyrics to Cody Johnson's ‘Jesus Loves You’, see below:

“You probably don’t remember me

Cause you were high and all strung out

But I’m the guy that spared your life last week when you broke into my house

No I ain’t been having nightmares

Just dreams of whipping your ass

I hear hard time it ain’t no fun, be thankful for that glass

I’ve rehearsed it in my mind

How things would go today

Practiced what I’d tell you

And all I got to say is

Jesus loves you

He’ll forgive you for your sins

And he’ll be there waiting for you

When your time on this earth ends

Yeah Jesus loves you

Buddy all it takes is faith

And if you come near me and mine again

You gonna meet him face to face

I bought you this bible

Don’t worry it’s on me

I know it’s a lot of pages

But you’ve got time to read

Cause the paper said you got 3 years

So while you’re in that cell

You better find a way to find him

Or I’ll send you straight to Hell, yeah

Jesus loves you

He’ll forgive you for your sins

And he’ll be there waiting for you

When your time on this earth ends

Yeah Jesus loves you

Buddy all it takes is faith

And if you come near me and mine again

You gonna meet him face to face

Our house is on the market

Cause my little girls can’t sleep

My friends all said they’da shot you dead

If they woulda been me

They all call you lucky

But I don’t believe in luck

The good lord was looking out for you

Cause my gun was in my truck, yeah

Jesus loves you

He’ll forgive you for your sins

And he’ll be there waiting for you

When your time on this earth ends

Yeah Jesus loves you

Buddy all it takes is faith

And if you come near me and mine again

You gonna meet him face to face

(Jesus loves you)

(Jesus loves you)”

For more on Cody Johnson, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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