Cody Johnson Says He Avoided Writing “Dear Rodeo” For Years After He Quit Riding Bulls: “I Felt Like I Had Failed At Something”

Cody Johnson country music
Keith Griner/Getty Images

Cody Johnson has certainly solidified himself as one of the best country artists in the mainstream world right now.

Starting out in the Texas music scene, where he honed his craft for years, he now has a distribution deal with major label Warner Nashville, and is being nominated all of the major country award shows, like the ACM’s.

He released his major label debut (and seventh overall) album Ain’t Nothin’ To It in 2019, which debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart, and also featured the fan-favorite song “Dear Rodeo.”

Cody opened up about it on his Youtube channel a while back, saying it was simultaneously the easiest and hardest song he’d ever written.

A co-write with Dan Couch, Cody says his friend and colleague Scott Gunner actually suggested the idea to him:

“‘Dear Rodeo’ was something I wish I’d thought of. Scott Gunner, who’s done my publishing, he’s over all my A&R and stuff, good friend of mine, taught me so much about songwriting, he suggested that I write this.

And I feel like sometimes, because he’s spent so much time diving into my music, knows me a little bit better than me, musically. And he brought to mind that I had  never addressed the fact that I don’t ride bulls anymore.

And I still get to cowboy enough when my schedule allows… but it’s still not the same. It’s not the same as it was for me in that portion of my life… to where I was a kid with some belt buckle dreams.”

He eventually quit riding bulls because he says he was better at music, but it still broke his heart because of how much he loved it.

Cody likened that experience to going through a divorce, saying it was hard to address that “I felt like I had failed at something”:

“Once I started really thinking about it, I think the reason I never wrote about it, it really felt like a divorce. That was something I loved very much.

To think on those hard times, and that made me a man, made me who I am, the ups, the downs, all the in-between, it was hard to address.

It was hard to address that I had failed, I felt like I had failed at something.”

He continued, saying once he finally decided he would write about it, the inspiration flowed because “it’s pretty easy to talk about love lost,” and I just love that quote:

“Even though I think we all know that God kinda directs your life how he wants to and I’m here for a reason, it’s still hard to write about.

But whenever myself and Dan Couch sat down to write the song, it literally was written in 45 minutes. It was the easiest thing I’d ever written, because all I had to do was talk about my life and the love that I had lost.

And whenever you really think of an aspect of a woman, or a divorce, it’s pretty easy to talk about love lost.”

The song was eventually reworked and released as the third single from the project as a feature with Reba, and has since been certified Gold by the RIAA.

And if you want to hear a little more about it from yours truly, you can watch the video below and check out our whole TikTok page for more good stuff like this:

@whiskeyriff Behind the song: “Dear Rodeo” by Cody Johnson 🎶 Read more about it on #whiskeyriff #countrymusic #cojonation #cojo #codyjohnson #behindthesong #fyp ♬ original sound – Whiskey Riff

Cody recently revealed that his forthcoming record, Leather, will be another double album, so hopefully we’ll have a release date and more details on that sometime in the near future.

“Dear Rodeo”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock