Clifton Lee Johnston

Clifton Lee Johnston


"Do you suppose a man's gotta be a miserable son of a bitch all the time just to write a good song every now and then?" - Blackie Buck (aka Kris Kristofferson)


Life is rough... tougher for some than others. Clifton Lee Johnston has had a bit more than his fair share of misfortune, maybe. Death, divorce, despair, disappointment. But it sure makes for a damn good song.

Let's take a look at Clif's first album, Live at Jet City. "All I Need" and "If I Can't Write My Songs For You" are pleas for reconciliation; "Cold Wind Blowin" is about infidelity; "The Love You Leave Behind" is about the death of a loved one; "Travelin' Man" is about loneliness; "Suffer Me" is a personal manifesto declaring freedom to live one's own life. Interestingly enough, the one "happy" tune on the album is about the healing power of music - "The Song." The nature of the art, in this case, truly reflects the nature of the artist - a troubled troubadour with a hard-lived life, finding solace only in song.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Clif moved to Seattle in 1996 with just a guitar and a duffle bag full of clothes, and began playing original songs on the singer-songwriter circuit. He recorded Live at Jet City, a 7-song EP, in 1998 and is currently working on his first 3 or 4 full-length releases.


Travelin' Man

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

I'm not asking for forever
And I don't want a one night stand
I only want for you to spend a little time
With a lonely travelin' man

No I'm not talking about marriage
I couldn't bear to settle down
I only want for you to wait a little while
For a lonely travelin' man

Take my hand
I'll lead you through a promised land
Where every broken heart can have a home
But hold on to me just as long as you can
'Cause it won't be long 'til I'll be gone

No I don't mind about your true love
'Cause I can love you just the same
Though it seems that all I have to offer anymore
Is a memory...and a name


Now don't you worry 'bout tomorrow
And please don't try to understand
Just shed a tear and say a prayer if you can
For a lonely travelin' man

All I Need

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

I fought the urge for far too long
To make it one more day
So I called you on the telephone
With only this to say

I failed to see the consequence
Of what my words could do
A sentence of forever spent
Living without you

But all I need is to see you once again
All I need, all I need is you
All I need is to see you once again
All I need, all I need is you

And I guess I did not comprehend
Until it was too late
Your breaking heart just could not bend
Beneath your sorrow's weight


So forgive me for the pain I've caused
And all I've put you through
And tell me that our love's not lost
'Cause all I need is you


The Love You Leave Behind

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

I'd walk a million miles just to find a way
If I could make my way to you
Just a vision of your perfect face
Would be enough to pull me through

Time can hurt so bad
When time is all you have
And when your time is all gone, gone, gone
The love you leave behind still lingers on

I had a dream just the other day
That you were calling out my name
And you were saying if I'd only wait
That somehow things would be the same


I wish I knew a better way
But I don't have the strength to stay any longer
Without you by my side
If you could only give a sign
Or if God would let you drop a line
If you're out there, somewhere


The Song

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

Well I came upon a song today
As it floated by on its merry way
And it stopped and clung to me for a little while
And it spoke to me of precious things
That only dreams and memories bring
As I sat and listened to it with a smile

Music is religion whose church is harmony
And the singer is a teacher preaching sermons as he sings
And his lyrics they are scripture and his melodies are fire
God is sound and the world is a choir

Well it whispered secrets to my heart
Of common life and sacred art
That echoed in the labyrinth of my soul
And it took the questions from my mind
Of hope and peace for humankind
And wrapped them up in love to make them whole


Well I asked the song if it could stay
Or if there was a price to pay
For all the visions it had shown to me
But it told me that it had to go
For many others wait to know
The only thing that I had yet to see
That all the greatest things in life are free


Sweet Dreams

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

I don't know if there's heaven or hell
If there's life after living, there's no one can tell
But no matter what happens, you know I love you so
Sweet dreams now wherever you go

I don't know if the Bible is true
If this life that we live is all we get to do
But no matter what happens, you know I love you so
Sweet dreams now wherever you go

Well, I might not have seen you as much as I liked
Or as often as you wanted me to
But I can't help but hope that I'll see you someday
When my time on this old world is through

I don't know where you're going from here
Or if all that you had was your eighty-some years
But no matter what happens, you know I love you so
Sweet dreams now wherever you go
Sweet dreams now wherever you go

Suffer Me

Written By: Clifton Lee Johnston

This is my journey
This is my life
This is my search for self, soul and light

You can watch if you want to
Or you can walk on by
Curse me if you have to
But suffer me to try

I will fly so high
Higher than the sun
And sometimes I will fall
I'll win my fame and fortune now
And surely lose it all


Well, I'll find love and loneliness
Salvation and despair
I'll learn to laugh and I'll learn to cry
And maybe even care

And I am sure that I will change along the way
Until the day I die
And I may find some inner peace
But truth may pass me by



Live at Jet City EP (1998)

Set List

45 minute set of original music