The Important Message in Cody Johnson’s “‘Til You Can’t”

Cody Johnson’s first country No. 1 was not among the boot-stomping bangers that usually sky-scrape the charts. The 2021 smash hit, “‘Til You Can’t,” instead became a success because of a message far more important than having beers with the boys or a competition over whose truck is more lifted.

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“‘Til You Can’t” holds a universal message, one that the contemporary country cowboy is urging listeners to start living by.

A Message for All

“Get off your butt and go get life,” Johnson said of the meaning of “‘Til You Can’t” in conversation with Audacy. “Life’s not going to come to you. … Nobody owes you anything in this life. If you want something you gotta go get it.”

Penned by Ben Stennis and Matt Rogers, the song struck a chord with the artist when he first heard it.

If you got a chance, take it, take it while you got a chance / If you got a dream, chase it, ’cause a dream won’t chase you back, the song’s chorus plays as a message to go after life before it’s too late, to make the most of every opportunity and every relationship while there’s still time. If you’re gonna love somebody, hold ’em as long and as strong and as close as you can / Till you can’t.

For Johnson, the lyrics took on an even deeper meaning during the summer of 2021. A private jet he was on with his wife almost went down, a moment that caused the lyrics of ‘”Till You Can’t” to become gospel truth.

“I really sat there for about 30 minutes as the plane was going down, with my wife, like, ‘This is it. I love you,'” he shared of the near-death experience in an interview with Taste of Country.

“I’m thinking about things I regret,” he recalled. “I’m thinking about things I could’ve done. Why did I tell my little girls I was too busy to get on the floor and play? Why didn’t I make that phone call and apologize to that person? Why didn’t I tell that person, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be Christian and not be perfect?’ All those opportunities that I didn’t seize, and even my wife—why don’t I do these things?”

Check out the conversation below.

“The longer I sing it, my perspective on my own life changes every time I sing it,” Johnson told Billboard. “You hear lyrics like fixing up the car with your grandpa, and everyone who hears it thinks, ‘Well, grandpa may die.’ Well, our time is limited, too.”

In the song, he urges listeners to take that phone call from your momma and just talk away / ‘Cause you’ll never know how bad you wanna till you can’t someday / Don’t wait on tomorrow ’cause tomorrow may not show / Say your sorries, your I-love-yous, ’cause man you never know.

“I think about all the division that we’ve had politically and with race and different things in our country,” he continued telling the outlet. “If you spend your time spreading hate, your time is going to be up, and that’s all you did with your time here.”

Photo by Jay Trevino

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