Megan Moroney’s “Why Johnny” Was Inspired By Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash’s Iconic Love Story

“Everybody recognizes them as this iconic love story, which they definitely were…” Moroney explained.


Melinda Lorge


Posted on May 16, 2023

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Megan Moroney; Photo Provided

Megan Moroney released her brand-new debut album, LUCKYon Friday (May 5). The collection features her breakthrough single, “Tennessee Orange,” and comes stacked with potential hits. The album also showcases the 25-year-old rising star’s songwriting prowess.

“Why Johnny”

One of the tracks on the project is called “Why Johnny.” A thought-provoking tune, penned by Moroney with Conor Matthews, “Why Johnny” plays out as a letter to the famous June Carter Cash, who was married to Johnny Cash for 35 years.

Throughout the cut, Moroney refers to the Cash couple’s longtime marriage and ponders over the difficult parts of their relationship.

She asks questions that find her wanting to know why June Carter stuck it through the hard times with Johnny and relates her own situation to their love-story, singing: “I think I’ve got a Johnny of my own / But will he change / Hell if I know / Guess I’m just hoping / But how do I keep hoping,” throughout the second verse.

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Moroney continues her inquiries throughout the chorus of the song, with the lyrics: “When he came home late on booze and pills / Lyin’ through that perfume smell / Coming off his shirt / What made you wanna make it work? Did you always know he’d come around / Change his ways and settle down? / Did your friends call you crazy too? / It’d sure help if I knew / Hey June, why Johnny?”

“Why Johnny,” proves Moroney’s staying power as it takes an approach that is a stark contrast from the sugary love songs that have represented the legendary superstar couple in the past, such as their duets, “Cause I Love You,” “Jackson,” and others.

Megan Moroney; Photo by David McClister
Megan Moroney; Photo by David McClister

Inspired Johnny And June Cash’s Iconic Love Story

In writing the song, Moroney, who admits she tends to veer away from penning love songs, recounted what she knew about Johnny and June’s love story, and opened up about the inspiration behind the track with Billboard, saying, “Everybody recognizes them as this iconic love story, which they definitely were… I didn’t realize that when they met backstage at the Opry, they were married to two different people.”

“As soon as I saw that, I thought, ‘Oh, well that’s a little messy,’” she continued with a laugh, “Johnny struggled with alcohol and substance abuse and was living the rock star life. I just thought, ‘June, how did you know to stick with him through all that? How did you know he was eventually going to be writing you poems every day?’ That song is special because it was the first time I had written about someone else’s love story but then tied it to my own.”

Megan Moroney; Photo by David McClister
Megan Moroney; Photo by David McClister

“Sleep On My Side”

On her album, Megan Moroney, a Georgia native, also pays tribute to other country music legends with “Sleep On My Side,” a song that name-checks John Prine, and “God Plays A Gibson,” which highlights Loretta Lynn. She also makes mention of the Willie Nelson classic “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in “Sad Songs for Sad People.” 

“I put the names of John Prine and Loretta in my songs, because I know some of my fans may not know who they are, but maybe they’ll go back and listen to some of their music,” Moroney says.

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LUCKY produced by Kristian Bush (who Megan Moroney interned for a while in college), is Moroney’s first offering via Sony Music Nashville/Columbia Records. For the 13-track project, Moroney worked alongside lauded tunesmiths like Luke Laird, Lori McKenna, Jessie Jo Dillon, Rodney Clawson, Matt Jenkins, Matthews, Ben Williams, and more. 

“There’s value in being able to write with these legendary writers, but also to collaborate with writers like Ben, who has been growing with me at the same time,” she says of her collaborators and Williams, who has seven credits on the album.

On Tour With Brooks & Dunn

Moroney is currently on the road opening dates for Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot Tour 2023. In the fall, she will launch her headlining The Lucky Tour. The trek, which makes stops in 22 cities, begins on September 20 in New York City at The Bowery Ballroom and will run through November 10, marking its closing show at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.

Megan Moroney 'Lucky' Album Art
Megan Moroney ‘Lucky’ Album Art

Megan Moroney’s LUCKY Track List

  1. “I’m Not Pretty”
  2. “Lucky” 
  3. “Tennessee Orange” 
  4. “Kansas Anymore”
  5. “Girl In The Mirror”
  6. “Another On The Way”
  7. “Traitor Joe”
  8. “Why Johnny”
  9. “God Plays A Gibson”
  10. “Georgia Girl”
  11. “Sleep On My Side”
  12. “Mustang Or Me” 
  13. “Sad Songs For Sad People”
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