Album - Cody Johnson - Leather
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‘People In The Back’ by Cody Johnson - Lyrics & Meaning

November 3, 2023 12:08 pm GMT
Last Edited December 18, 2023 9:30 pm GMT

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Cody Johnson - ‘People In The Back’

Label: CoJo Music / Warner Music Nashville

Release Date: November 3rd 2023

Album: Leather

Producer: Trent Willmon

Songwriter: Devin Dawson, Austin Taylor Smith & Mark Trussell

The Background:

‘People In The Back’ is one of rowdier, uptempo offerings on Cody Johnson's 2023 album, Leather, with the barnstorming anthem serving as a celebration of the unsung heroes that attend CoJo's shows.

A moving part of the Texas native's live performances is the moment when he pays tribute to veterans, nurses and various other key workers across the US, and ‘People In The Back’ will undoubtedly provide the perfect opportunity to reiterate his appreciation.

‘People In The Back’ was not shared as a single and was instead made available as part of Leather, with fans having to wait until the project's November 3rd 2023 release date before they could hear the swaggering, energising earworm.

The track was co-written by a trio of leading contemporary country songsmiths, Devin Dawson, Austin Taylor Smith and Mark Trussell. Dawson has leant his pen to hits such as Blake Shelton's ‘God's Country’ and Morgan Wallen's ‘I Deserve A Drink’, while Trussell worked on Niko Moon's R&B-infused fire-starter, ‘Good Time’. Austin Taylor Smith co-wrote Warren Zeiders’ ‘West Texas Weather’, as well as contributing towards a range of Devin Dawson's solo material.

The Sound:

Although there are a slew of intricate ballads on Leather, including the beautiful ‘Make Me A Mop‘ and ‘Dirt Cheap’, ‘People In The Back’ is constructed in the mould of a classic Friday night dive-bar jukebox anthem, such as ‘Long Live Country Music’.

Cody Johnson croons across a sea of electric guitars and a galvanising, pulsating beat, with the track gaining momentum with every hook as CoJo matches the crescendo with a fiery roar.

The Meaning:

“Naw you ain’t looking for a shout out

Or a spotlight

You’re just happy to be here drinking cold beer

In the cheap seats

On a Friday night

Working a long week off”

Cody Johnson begins by emphasising that the people he's about to pay tribute to are modest and humble, and won't be expecting any kind of recognition for their vital work.

He directs his attention to those in the nosebleeds, who have used up their hard-earned cash to see him play live, even though they could only afford the worst seats in the venue.

“Yeah I’ve sang plenty of songs about love gone right & love gone wrong but this ain’t that

This is for the people in the back, yeah”

Cody Johnson playfully explains that he's released a plethora of odes to heartbreak and love, but now it's time for an homage to a different kind of musical muse.

“For the boy in the back pew

Headed back to the front lines in the morning

The mom rocking dads roll

In her work clothes

She ain’t in it for the glory

The angels in the wings

Tryna fly behind the scenes I know where you’re at

Yeah tonight I’m singing loud for

All them people in the back”

The song's protagonist picks out a young man who's enjoying his final night off before he returns to the military in the morning, along with the mothers who are selflessly attending the show for their husbands. He stresses that these are the ‘angels’ in our midst, despite the fact that they rarely get the credit they deserve.

“From way on back in the nose bleeds

To the front row

I bet you everybody in this place

Has got an unsung hero

That's for damn sure

They all deserve to have a damn good time

So everybody raise one high”

Cody Johnson makes ‘People In The Back’ relatable by expanding the song to include all the loved ones that do incredible work and help others, yet don't get praised nearly enough.

He finishes by encouraging all those in the crowd to raise a toast to these altruistic people. The fact that they're described as sitting ‘in the back’ serves as a metaphor for the way they're often overlooked and never at the front of the queue for a well-earned reward.

“Yeah I know this light’s on me

But man I damn sure wouldn’t be

Right where I’m at

Without them people in the back

Talking bout”

In the rousing conclusion, CoJo switches from singing about all of our heroes, to making a more personal reference to all the people that deserve credit for transforming his own life.

What has Cody Johnson said about ‘People In The Back’?

While discussing the new album with KMLE Country 107.9 at Country Thunder Arizona 2023, CoJo explained that one of his primary objectives when putting together the Leather traacklist was to make the record more ‘fun’ than previous projects.

This sense of levity is captured by the high-octane, spirited ‘People In The Back’, with CoJo outlining, “I think the theme of this new album is ‘fun’, it doesn't matter whether it's a ballad or whether it's tongue-in-cheek...it all has to be fun, it all needs to make you kind of want to move around and bob your head a little bit”.

For the full lyrics to Cody Johnson's ‘Dirt Cheap’, see below:

“Naw you ain’t looking for a shout out

Or a spotlight

You’re just happy to be here drinking cold beer

In the cheap seats

On a Friday night

Working a long week off

Yeah I’ve sang plenty of songs about love gone right & love gone wrong but this ain’t that

This is for the people in the back, yeah

For the boy in the back pew

Headed back to the front lines in the morning

The mom rocking dads roll

In her work clothes

She ain’t in it for the glory

The angels in the wings

Tryna fly behind the scenes I know where you’re at

Yeah tonight I’m singing loud for

All them people in the back

Yeah, you know who you are

From way on back in the nose bleeds

To the front row

I bet you everybody in this place

Has got an unsung hero

That's for damn sure

They all deserve to have a damn good time

So everybody raise one high

For the boy in the back pew

Headed back to the front lines in the morning

The mom rocking dads roll

In her work clothes

She ain’t in it for the glory

The angels in the wings

Tryna fly behind the scenes I know where you’re at

Yeah tonight I’m singing loud for

All them people in the back

Yeah I know this light’s on me

But man I damn sure wouldn’t be

Right where I’m at

Without them people in the back

Talking bout

For the boy in the back pew

Headed back to the front lines in the morning

The mom rocking dads roll

In her work clothes

She ain’t in it for the glory

The angels in the wings

Tryna fly behind the scenes I know where you’re at

Yeah tonight I’m singing loud for

All them people in the back

All y’all people in the back”

For more on Cody Johnson, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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