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‘Work Boots’ by Cody Johnson - Lyrics & Meaning

November 2, 2023 11:25 am GMT
Last Edited December 18, 2023 9:40 pm GMT

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Cody Johnson - ‘Work Boots’

Label: CoJo Music / Warner Music Nashville

Release Date: September 22nd 2023

Album: Leather

Producers: Trent Willmon

Songwriters: Jason Afable, Brett Beavers & Canaan Smith

The Background:

‘Work Boots’ arrived on streaming platforms towards the end of September, as part of a two-song preview pack released by Cody Johnson ahead of his new album, Leather.

‘Work Boots’ was shared alongside ‘Watching My Old Flame’, with each track showcasing an entirely different side to the Texas native's appeal. ‘Work Boots’ is a joyful, uptempo track overflowing with levity and frivolity, while ‘Watching My Old Flame’ serves as a despairing, drawn-in ballad exploring the faltering afterglow of a break-up.

Months prior to the release of Leather, Cody Johnson confirmed the eagerly awaited project would be pervaded by an overriding sense of ‘fun’, something that is unquestionably exemplified by both ‘Work Boots’ and CoJo's follow-up single, ‘That's Texas’.

The joint release of ‘Work Boots’ and ‘Watching My Old Flame’ was accompanied by the announcement of the official Leather release date, which helped to dialled up the excitement and buzz surrounding the new double-album to fever-pitch.

The Sound:

‘Work Boots’ has that classic country ‘bounce’ that often gets dampened by over-zealous, comteporary production, with Trent Willmon allowing the jaunty twang of the lead guitar to take centre-stage before Cody Johnson's distinctive baritone enters the fray.

The rhythmic, deliberate beat that drives the song throughout gives ‘Work Boots’ the ambience of an old Texas dance-hall track, perfectly complementing the song's bar-room narrative.

With this style of traditional-leaning anthem, it's easy to overdo the playfulness and allow the song to descend into twee, corny territory, but Cody Johnson and Trent Willmon strike a rewarding sweet-spot between the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and energising backing.

By not cluttering ‘Work Boots’ with a cacophony of superfluous instruments in an attempt to add extra vigour, the song retains the signature swagger and strut that colours previous CoJo fan-favourites, such as ‘Honky Tonk Hardwood Floors’ and ‘Cowboy Scale of 1 to 10’. The song seamlessly glides down the middle-way between taking itself too seriously and becoming superficial and trite.

The Meaning:

“You ain't got no problem getting up with the sun

Scuffin up leather, diggin in the red dirt, getting that job done

But it's Friday night and your tapping right along with the groove

And that pretty little thing’s, looking at me, I'm counting on you”

The track finds Cody Johnson personifying his worn-out work boots, with the protagonist charmingly chatting to his Wranglers as though they're his buddies. It credits them as a source of confidence, in a similar way to Riley Green's ‘If I Didn't Wear Boots’.

He begins by attempting to gee them up for the task at hand: scoring a dance with the woman of his dreams. The protagonist reminds his boots that they're perfectly capable of helping him out when he's performing manual labour on a daily basis.

Now, though, it's time for a wholly different kind of challenge - and he needs his ‘Work Boots’ to be on top form if he's going to successfully impress his prospective date.

“So come on work boots

We got a little work to do

It looks like she wants to dance

I wouldn't wanna miss our chance

She might be the one to change our world

But we ain't gonna get the girl sitting on a stool

We gotta make our move

So come on work boots”

The uplifting hook pivots around a witty play on the fact that he wants his ‘Work Boots’ to do another kind of work, as Cody Johnson tries to give his boots a pep talk.

What makes this all the more endearing is the fact that the protagonist is clearly talking to himself, as he tries to build up the courage to walk over and talk to the woman.

“First step is we'll go up and ask her her name

And then maybe these two left feet'll get two step carried away

Don't dig your heels in now just follow my lead

It's the moment of truth and I can't have you dragging our feet”

In the second verse, he sets out the ‘steps’ - in more ways than one - it'll take for him to make the move. He extends the foot-related metaphor by quipping that his “two left feet'll get two step carried away”, as he self-deprecatingly describes his poor dance-skills, but nonetheless hopes he'll be able to pull off the famous Texas Two-Step.

In another shoe-based piece of wordplay, CoJo jokes that he hopes his ‘Work Boots’ don't ‘dig their heels in’ or ‘drag their feet’, as he finally decides to walk on over to the woman.

“Hell this might just be our song

Get to work boots

Who knows maybe later on

I might get to kick it off”

Cody Johnson concludes ‘Work Boots’ on an aptly tongue-in-cheek note, with the ‘Til You Can't’ hitmaker teasing that, if he's lucky, he might get to take his love interest home and ‘kick off’ his Wranglers.

What has Cody Johnson said about ‘Work Boots’?

During a backstage conversation with KMLE Country 107.9 at Country Thunder Arizona 2023, Cody Johnson emphasised his intentions to make Leather a much more carefree, jovial project, “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”.

This is embodied on the likes of ’Work Boots’ and ‘That's Texas’, both of which set the tone for listeners as they keenly looked ahead to the release of Leather on November 3rd 2023.

For the full lyrics to Cody Johnson's ‘Work Boots’, see below:

“You ain't got no problem getting up with the sun

Scuffin up leather, diggin in the red dirt, getting that job done

But it's Friday night and your tapping right along with the groove

And that pretty little thing’s, looking at me, I'm counting on you

So come on work boots

We got a little work to do

It looks like she wants to dance

I wouldn't wanna miss our chance

She might be the one to change our world

But we ain't gonna get the girl sitting on a stool

We gotta make our move

So come on work boots

First step is we'll go up and ask her her name

And then maybe these two left feet'll get two step carried away

Don't dig your heels in now just follow my lead

It's the moment of truth and I can't have you dragging our feet

So come on work boots

We got a little work to do

It looks like she wants to dance

I wouldn't wanna miss our chance

She might be the one to change our world

But we ain't gonna get the girl sitting on a stool

We gotta make our move

So come on work boots

Hell this might just be our song

Get to work boots

Who knows maybe later on

I might get to kick it off

She might be the one to change our world

But we ain't gonna get the girl sitting on a stool

We gotta make our move

So come on work boots”

For more on Cody Johnson, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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