It’s April 20, aka Weed Day, so what better day than today to cover the latest single by Eagle Johnson and Clean Machine, ‘All My Friends’, which is all about gathering together with your friends, forgetting your problems and putting the world to rights – by getting high?
Mixed by Lee Scratch Perry, the song has a really retro vibe, taking us back to our high school days, and this is compounded by the music video – really a lyric video – with the words marching across the screen of a 70s/80s model tv set. The tv itself is positioned on a slightly skewed angle, adding to the relaxed feeling of the song.
Eagle Johnson explains what the song is about:
“This song is about the inner child in all of us looking at the ridiculousness of adults fighting over colors and sides….through all of society’s pressure to divide us we declare: whatever you’re preferences…my friends love to get high and play…but remember the harvest man in the field who can’t pay his bills because his wage is too low…protected by a shield that God gave that no man can take away…“illegal immigrants” who feed us everyday…you can’t eat money, you can try, but it will taste funny.”
Eagle Johnson found his way to music via a stint behind bars following a break and enter on a Florida church, and then a period in a state-run mental health society. Describing it as a “temporary break with reality”, Eagle was given permission to play guitar and sing, as a form of therapy. It worked, and had the bonus side effect of, once he was released with a clean bill of health, his evolution into a bona fide songwriter. He heard blues and American folk music calling his name, so he headed to Memphis, and started playing local shows, including opening for Valerie June, and garnering the praise of the self-proclaimed “last of the original delta-bluesmen”, Zeke Johnson, who died in 2019. Zeke took Eagle under his wing, and passed along the delta blues stylings that he himself had been taught by the masters, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Furry Lewis.
Eagle moved on to Nashville, where he expanded his sound into a brand of rock and roll with nods at those icons of the past while joining in with the nostalgia trend, and using analogue recording instruments. He started a music project with some of his friends, Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine, and teamed up with Nashville’s Bomb Shelter studios, which has become known as the “Analogue Wonderland”.
Their 2020 single, ‘Mexico’, found its way to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bob Marley’s producer, and the legend agreed to mix ‘All My Friends’, working remotely in his studio in Sweden.
It’s impossible not to find the joy in ‘All My Friends’, it’s catchy and fun, and the vocals are so languid we just want to lay back and relax in the sunshine. If you’re of a mind to commemorate Weed Day, then we can recommend you listen to this as well. Who knows? Maybe you’ll solve all the problems of the world while doing so.