John Henry is a rock-and-roll heavyweight, and the music video for his new single “Work” premieres exclusively on American Songwriter below. “Work” is the second of five tracks on Henry’s upcoming album, Out at Sea, that will be released on all streaming platforms on October 2nd.
“Work” is simultaneously a clever black and white window into the beginnings of the American dream and a commentary on today’s harsh economic realities — all while making you want to snap your fingers and stomp your feet to the beat.
“The genesis of the song came in a conversation I was having with a friend who is in his 60’s,” Henry says. “He was telling me how he could pay for his year of college with his summer job. I wanted to try and juxtapose a lyric about how my generation and the generation younger have to often work multiple jobs to make basic ends meet compared to the past of one middle-class job providing a stable middle class, American life with music that had an element of fun and that someone could dance to.”
Outside of creating timeless anthems like “Work,” John Henry is the talent booker for Off Broadway in St. Louis, founder and manager of the annual Open Highway Music Festival, and now leads a new band of all-stars after fronting for John Henry and the Engine. Recently, Henry has also taken a more personal and passionate approach to his music, specifically for Out at Sea, as he draws inspiration from his family and community.
As a Renaissance Man of the music industry, Henry has no shortage of fans for his work. “John Henry is the guy next door that’s cool and chill. Always easy and friendly,” Robert Earl Keen says. “One day he invites me over for a beer and the talk turns to music. He’s been in bands and promoted shows for years and asks, ‘Do you want to hear some of my music?’ I thought I’d listen to a song and then I’d be outta there, but he starts playing his music, and with every chord, every song, a transformation took place. Four hours and several beers later I said goodnight and went home saying to myself, ‘I live next door to a bonafide music star. Who would have thought it?’”
Overall, John Henry is the consistent front man that you can lean on for some fresh tunes and a contagious amount of rock-and-roll swagger. Watch the debut of “Work” below and find out more about John Henry here.