Jamey Johnson Pays Tribute To Fallen Marines Who Died “Too Young” With His Newly Released “21 Guns”

Gary Miller / Getty Images & Jamey Johnson / Instagram

Jamey Johnson recently released a deeply moving song, “21 Guns,” paying homage to his fellow Marines who tragically lost their lives at a young age. It is a heartfelt tribute to the fallen soldiers who left the world too soon.

Inspired by the painful experiences of attending the funerals of fallen soldiers, Johnson shared that the song is a response to the emotional impact of witnessing the loss of young, heroic lives and the profound grief experienced by their families.


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Johnson will perform the national television debut of “21 Guns” during PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert on May 26, marking a significant return to the music scene. The concert will stream on YouTube and PBS’s official website.

Johnson felt that the National Memorial Day Concert was the perfect setting for the broadcast premiere of “21 Guns,” given its touching relevance to the essence of Memorial Day and the sacrifices made by servicemen and women.

“When I was asked to do a song for the Memorial Day concert, this was the first song that came into my mind because it is literally about Memorial Day. I think this show is well worth doing.

I love the fact that they gather that many people out there to celebrate the men and women who died to make our country what it is today. We do owe them a debt of gratitude and should stop what we are doing to be thankful for what they have given us. I am proud I get to be a part of it.”

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Johnson revealed that some of his fans have already had the chance to hear his latest song at his recent concerts.

“I have performed the song live quite a bit for the past year or so. We just went into the studio recently to record it. It timed out perfectly to put it out there on display. It will be in new music we are releasing this year. I am happy ‘21 Guns’ found a home.”

RELATED: Jamey Johnson Debuts New Song – It’s About A Friend Serving In The Marine Corps

Johnson also expressed that the song proved to be a cathartic experience for him, as it allowed him to express his deeply-held emotions about the experiences that inspired the song.

In a press release shared last week, Johnson explained why “21 Guns” is deeply meaningful to him.

“I wrote it because I have gone to too many funerals of Marines I served with that were just too young. When they die young, you always remember them that way, which is unfair. Guys that heroic that die that young deserve the right to grow old and they didn’t get to.

But it is also being at those funerals and seeing their parents who seem much too young to have a child die in that way and wondering what must be going through their minds. This song is the answer to that question.”

Through “21 Guns,” Johnson seeks to honor the memory of fallen soldiers and provide solace to their families, friends, and comrades, acknowledging the immense sacrifice made by these heroic individuals.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - JULY 04: Jamey Johnson performs in concert during the annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic at the Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
Gary Miller / Getty Images

Johnson’s military service from 1994 to 2002, where he attained the rank of corporal, adds depth to the heartfelt lyrics:

“But I don’t need no one to tell me you’re a hero /

Hell, I’ve known that ever since you were young /

There ain’t words to say how proud we all are of you, son /

Nothing says job well done like 21 guns.”

Reflecting on his own military service, Johnson emphasized how profoundly it affected his life and career, expressing pride in his service while acknowledging the emotional complexities that come with military duty.

“Since I was a young child, I always knew I was going to be a Marine. I knew when it was time to leave college and do my time in the Marine Corps. I signed up with a recruiter and went to Parris Island. It’s this same drive that I have today about doing this kind of song…I wrote ’21 Guns’ because I have been feeling this way for years. I want to put it out there because I think it will help. There may be somebody out there who doesn’t know how to express what they are feeling, and maybe this will help.”

In addition to the release of “21 Guns,” Johnson announced the What A View Tour, a four-month tour set to begin on June 20, 2024, featuring numerous stops across nearly 40 cities.

Through his new song, Johnson offers a deeply resonating tribute, honoring the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

Listen below to Jamey Johnson’s “21 Guns” to experience the heartfelt tribute firsthand.

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