Scott Johnson’s career path is anything but ordinary. After graduating from Harvard, Scott headed home to Jackson, Mississippi, where he volunteered in the Clinton ‘92 campaign before moving to Washington, DC. He waited tables for a while before landing a minor position at the White House. He went back to school and earned a degree in journalism then moved to New York for a position at ABC network. After working as a writer for several years, he eventually found his way back to music, and in today’s episode, Scott shares his experience as a musician.
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Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the 90 T report conversations with members of the Harvard Radcliffe class of 1992. I’m your host will Bachman. And I’m here today with Scott Albert Johnson, who is a musician and a. I’m excited to be here with you today. So Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott Albert Johnson 00:22
Yeah, thank you for having me. Well, this is a really cool thing you’re doing.
Will Bachman 00:25
So Scott, let’s start by giving me kind of a thumbnail overview of your life since graduation, we know what you would tell a member of our class, if you were catching up at reunion, you hadn’t seen the person in 30 years?
Scott Albert Johnson 00:41
Sure. Okay. So I’m going to kind of go more or less chronologically. So when we graduated in 1992, I was painfully unsure of what I was going to do with my life. And so I went home to Jackson, Mississippi, where I grew up, and, you know, ran the gauntlet of my parents asking me what, what I was going to do next. And I eventually, I started volunteering on Bill Clinton’s 92 presidential campaign in the Mississippi office, which was an interesting experience, because even though this video is pretty, a pretty red state, the fact that President Clinton was from Arkansas meant that there were a lot of people connected to him in some way, directly or indirectly. So I volunteered on that campaign, work some events, when he and when, when his wife came to Jackson. And then when he won, I made the decision to move to DC. So I worked with being at the inaugural committee for a few weeks when I first arrived. And after several months waiting tables, I got a job at the White House. And I worked there for about a year. And you know, not not doing anything very, very substantial on my own part, but I was exposed to a lot of interesting, interesting stuff. It was it was very interesting experience. Then I went back to graduate school at Columbia, for journalism to the J school. And I worked as a journalist for several years, mostly in the what was then the emerging field of online media. I worked for ABC, the network in in New York, I worked for prodigy and CompuServe. I did some freelance work for AOL. And I also started my own. What actually was one of the very first political blogs, called Publius, named after the pseudonym used by the authors of the Federalist Papers, I was a gov major. So that was kind of what fueled that was kind of a man on the street approach to following the 96 presidential campaign. And I got some nice write ups in the magazine for the Society of Professional Journalists. I got USA Today, New York Times I got some mentions. I never made any money from it. But it was definitely an interesting thing to to have done. Then kind of moved around a bit moved to from from the New York area to Columbus, Ohio, then to Southern California, spent some time in San Diego and LA, then moved back to Washington, DC, spent several years there working in various sort of media ventures wasn’t really feeling super fulfilled by it. And sometime in there, I reconnected with my love of music I had played and sung in bands back in high school. I’ve been a bass player and vocalist and done it a lot in high school and a bit in college. But but you know, I was a character football team at Harvard. And that was a pretty big time commitment. And so I had sort of always had both sort of a athletic and musical side to my, my personality and the music part took a backseat for the most part during college, but I found myself really missing it. And I think, you know, I was a little bit sort of searching in my 20s and I think I was missing that without even realizing it. So around the time I turned 30, I was living in DC and I got back into music kind of as a what I thought was just as a, you know, kind of a lark almost started doing some stuff with a guy that I worked with at a think tank for whom I was doing communication. The pretty quickly became more than a lark and I started gigging a lot. That’s what I really took up in earnest, the harmonica, which is not something I’d really even thought about that much. I kind of goofed around on it when I was younger, but very quickly, I got very into it, and I got pretty good at it pretty quickly. I realized it was kind of a natural instrument for me. And I also started writing songs. And so you that that was a pretty big change in my life. At that point I started gigging a lot in the DC area. And, and writing more songs and really taking it more seriously while at the same time not finding a lot of fulfillment and other thing, you know, the, the, the paying job, stuff that I was doing. And there came a point where I made the decision that I was going to move back home to Jackson. And I was thinking of it, it’s kind of like a waystation on the way probably to New Orleans or Austin. But a few things happened very quickly after I moved back, which was in March of 2003. Number one, I started gigging a lot, not only here in Jackson, but also in New Orleans, which is only about a two and a half hour drive from here. And you know, so I was playing a lot in New Orleans without actually moving there, but spending a lot of time there. And then I also I met my wife, and we dated for a couple years, and then we got married. And at the same time, I was doing a fair amount of out of town planning, and I got gigs, all over, really, sort of Mississippi plus, I did one toward Europe. And we really started to kind of take off. Two years went by, and we had our second child, we now have two boys and a girl. And I realized, you know, music obviously was important to me, it was never something I was going to stop doing. But needed needed health insurance needed a little little stability as well. So went back and started working a day job also did a few different things. And then in the summer of 2012, I took a job at my high school, Alma Mater, which is an independent school here in the Jackson area. And I took a job as one of the college counselors here. And I’m still working at that school. trickier now. But I’m also still playing music really just as almost as as well not almost really just as actively as ever, I put out a couple of albums, I released a single little over a year ago called flow that was very influenced by the pandemic and got some nice notices and a lot of airplay around the country, mostly on like college and public radio stations and got some airplay on web T in Detroit, which is a pretty influential station working on another single now and really, you know, have to have, I’ve sort of established two lives on those are two careers, but really, you almost have to live a double life doing doing what I do. You know, I’ve known around the school mostly as a college counselor, but if you look in the rest of the Jackson area, or in the world at large, I’m mostly known as a musician and a songwriter. So that’s been interesting and pretty fulfilling. It’s not without its challenges, you know, but But certainly, from an artistic standpoint, I feel like I’m able to do the things I want to do which which, which is great. I’ve, I’ve recently, I always played a little bit of guitar, but I’ve really thrown myself more into it over the last year. And that’s done wonders for my for my songwriting for my music as a whole. So, you know, between the family and and these two careers, you know, I’ve certainly had challenges, I’ve had some some health issues, not life threatening, but kind of, you know, more quality of life threatening over the last couple of years that that are starting to get better. But other than that, though, I feel like I’ve had a pretty fortunate and blessed life, great, great family life, great friends, and still in touch with a lot of a lot of my friends from from college. And you know, you and I were talking before we we started this discussion about how you know, it’s not too late to meet people from our class that we didn’t know, in college didn’t have a chance to get to know. And I really, really agree with that. I mean, one of the things about the 25th reunion back in 2017, that was so awesome to me, was that I got really to know a lot of people that I either didn’t know, in college or didn’t know very well and and have maintained those connections in the last four and a half years. So that’s been really rewarding to me, and from what I understand a lot of people had the same experience. So that’s kind of the the I hope that’s not too long winded. That’s kind of the short, short version of where I’ve been for the last almost almost 30 years.
Will Bachman 09:27
No thank you, the I share your your feelings about the reunion for anybody who has a chance to go it’s it’s a different vibe than the some of the earlier ones, the fifth and the 10th where it feels like people are at a stage in life where they can be vulnerable. And one of the reasons I’m doing this podcast is I’m really curious to hear about the kind of worldview and the thinking processes of people who are outside my own bubble and of management consulting and tell me about some ways that You think that you might think differently about certain spaces or about anything? As a musician? For example, I imagine just being in a physical space where a musician might perform, right, whether it’s a bar or a concert hall, I’m curious, if you feel that you think about those spaces differently than someone who isn’t, you know, a professional musician.
Scott Albert Johnson 10:33
Yeah. So that’s, that’s, that’s a great question. So, I do think that playing music and really, and really trying to get to a, you know, frankly, to a level of excellence, the best, like the best that I can, and all the parts of my musical life, you know, really focusing on that, it’s taught me to be probably more in the moment than I would have been otherwise. And I’ll give one sort of quick example. I don’t know, if you were at Symphony Hall, at the printer for union, when I performed the Boston Pops. That was really one of the greatest nights of my life, frankly, you know, musically, and otherwise, my family was there, and it was an all so many friends, it was just, it was really special. And I knew it was special at the time, I knew that it was going to be an important memory for me, but I was also afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to really latch on to that memory, in a, in a tangible way. You know, I’ve learned about the, the ephemeral nature of our experiences, you know, over time, I think we all have learned that to a certain degree. So, in that space, I made a point, as I walked out on stage of, actually, as I was singing, I am playing, I made a point of looking up around the upper perimeter of the ceiling of Symphony Hall, there were these, I guess, you’d call them bus or statues of I, I couldn’t see exactly what they were, I assumed they were like classical neoclassical figures or whatever, I made a point of fixating on one of them for about 10 seconds. And I did that, because I wanted to have one just very specific image that I was in control of that I could always connect with that place. And I find myself doing that a lot, even in more mundane circumstances, you know, when I’m, when I’m playing just a show here locally, at a venue, I might have played, you know, 200 times, and then I have some like that, I make a point of looking around at the pictures on the wall, at the, at the carpet, at the, the expressions on the faces of the people that are there, especially if I know them, because, you know, I want to hold on to these things. I mean, these are, these are the moments that kind of define my life. And, you know, it’s the same when I’m at home, I catch myself, when one of my kids comes in the room to tell my wife and me something about their day, or what they’re doing, you know, of noticing some of the small details. I, I feel like if I had not had that sort of more light in part of my life, that, you know, maybe it would be harder to recognize the importance of that, that could be wrong, you know, I can’t, you know, hard to view the world from someone else’s perspective, obviously, but, but I do think that being an artist, which sounds like such a pretentious word, but I don’t view it in a pretentious way. It’s just kind of a fact. Having that sort of perspective on the world, is very important to me. And, you know, I kind of said, you know, I kind of live this double life, working as a college counselor, which is really more of a in most, in many ways, I guess not every way, it’s more of a left brain type job, you know, requires organization folic following certain templates in the way you deal with kids. But keep that sort of more elastic perspective on things and more almost abstract and flexible way of understanding the world and understanding the spaces that I’m in. You know, you Yeah, we all have things about ourselves, we would like to change or maybe improve but that’s something about my myself actually, what I mean, I want to hold on to that I don’t want to have, you know, a rigid, formulaic way of going through through my days because that, that sounds dreadful to me. I hope that makes sense. But I you know, I do think that is something that among the many things music has given me, I think that’s something that you know, in terms of my day to day life that has given
Will Bachman 15:01
Yeah, that is really a beautiful expression. I love that idea of picking out one specific thing and focusing on it. I never thought of that idea. It’s lovely. And I don’t think anyone should embarrass particularly someone like yourself, about calling yourself an artist, no, Seth Godin has a quote about what matters, what makes it art is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt, and made something worth making something risky, something human. And I think we should all you know, consider ourselves artists, and it’s really a shame if we don’t.
Scott Albert Johnson 15:39
Yeah, so I agree with that. And I would like to, I think everyone has that, that creativity in them, it’s a matter of, and it’s funny, I just got connected with a, with an alum of our school, she she’s a little younger, and someone I already kind of knew, but she’s a physical therapist, went to Vanderbilt study creative writing there, but but internet careers physical therapist, but is also a budding songwriter, and singer. And doing it more for her own creative impulses more than any desire to be famous or anything like that. And it made me really happy to, to really happy to talk to her about that and to be encouraging. Because, first of all, she actually is good, but but also, you know, whether someone is good by anyone else’s definition, I don’t think it matters, I think, I think, you know, working those creative muscles, it’s rewarding no matter what form it takes, I think.
Will Bachman 16:36
What about your path, do you think would have most surprised you, when your college age self
Scott Albert Johnson 16:46
this does maybe sound a little funny. But just the fact that I went down the path of playing music. So, you know, again, I played music in high school. And I played a bit in college, but, you know, the time commitment of football match made it a little, little harder to do that as much as I wanted to. Plus, there was something in me at the time. And I don’t know if this was sort of like the, in some ways, like a way of, of going to Harvard, or a school like Harvard, there’s something in me that I think was was telling myself, you know, there comes a time to put away childish things, you know, the mangling the biblical quote, but, but that, okay, it’s great that you play in a band. That’s that cool. That’s nice. But now it’s time to think about your life. And I don’t think at that time, you know, being a musician in any kind of lifelong way, was something that really even entered my mind, you know, might have entered my mind when I was younger, but I thought of that is something that you, you, you think about when you’re younger, not something you think about when you’re graduating with student loans, and, and this degree, that almost implies that you’re going to follow a certain path. Not that there’s anything wrong with those more traditional paths at all. I mean, many of my friends did that. And they’re living great lives are happy, you know, to varying degrees, I assume. But, you know, I eventually realized that I was, I was going to have to do things my own way. And, you know, sometimes people have said, I think that’s so awesome, that you’ve been courageous enough to follow your dream, blah, blah, blah, you know, that never really entered into it for me, I eventually realized, you know, I didn’t have much choice, like, like, if I was going to be happy, I was going to need to do this in some form or another. And, and I often tell people, I had been strikingly more happy and fulfilled since I went back into doing music. I think part of that is because I truly love music and songwriting and expressing myself that way. But I think there’s also a certain satisfaction in feeling like you know yourself well enough to just do the thing you feel you have to do. And that’s kind of what I’ve done. It hasn’t always been it certainly has not always been easy. You know, God bless my wife for for hanging out hanging out hanging out while I do this, but but, but I can’t really imagine another way that I personally could live with it isn’t not being encouraged and ended up just like, you know, I don’t know I I can’t do it any other way.
Will Bachman 19:44
I don’t have any other choice. I know how to do what’s what’s the excuse experience of live performance, feel like in turn and if you can relate it to something for for someone that’s not a musician, so is it? Mostly? Is it a feeling of deep belonging? Or is there a sense of transcendence? Or is it a sense of you know, the kind of the attention? Or is it feeling like you’re in a state of flow. So that kind of experience that we have when we’re working on a project, and we lose a sense of time? So tell us a little bit about that experience for you of being up on stage and what it feels like?
Scott Albert Johnson 20:36
It’s, that’s another great question. And it’s actually a lot of those things. Let me try to kind of answer them my own way. So and I’m going to draw from my college counseling side of my life here. Common Application of the common app, you know, that kids used to apply to, to many colleges around the country has certain essay prompts for the personal statement, and one of the one of the prompts is something is effective, you know, is there something you do in your life that makes you that is so important to you, and so fulfilling that it makes you lose all track of time. I think that’s the best way to put it. When it comes to music, I mean, you know, lately, like I said, I’ve been playing a lot of guitar, and I’ll pick up the guitar and start playing. And then really be genuinely shocked when I’m done, at how long I was playing. And it could be, you know, there’s probably some mathematical formula that would explain it. Like if I, if I think I was playing for five minutes, it turns out to be 10, or 15, or whatever it is. But sometimes it’s much longer than that. And, and when I’m actually playing a gig, and you know, like I said, I play several instruments, and I sang, and I’m often doing my own songs. Other times, I’m doing doing covers, I actually, just quick aside, I frequently play the song, hang on a little tomato, my Pink Martini, which includes our classmates from the Forbes, Thomas lottery, I do that song all the time, so shout out to them. But there’s something about that experience, whether it’s playing live, or just playing at home or record for that matter, recording, which is a whole other part of this experience, or songwriting. Time just works differently. And those moments really, really differently. Like I, I feel like you you described it as flow, there’s definitely a certain that that that word applies, I think. But I almost feel like there’s not really a word for what what that experience feels like. It’s a connection with the universe, it’s when I’m doing it live its connection with other people, when I’m writing a song of recording a song that, you know, I eventually intend to put out in the world. It’s a connection with all those people out in the world, like, hey, world, I’m, I’m trying to say something here. Listen to me, you know, which does require a certain kind of, I guess you would call it confidence in your in yourself and in your, in your message and in your, your, I guess for lack of a better word, your talent. But I really don’t look at it in those terms. I look at it and like, I’m trying to connect. And music makes me feel makes me feel more connected than anything it gives me that. Yeah, I think we all know that feeling of when you’re with really old and really good friends from high school or college that those friends that you just, you can just belly laugh with. Even if you hadn’t seen him for years. There’s something in that experience that is similar to the experience, I have playing music, I feel like I’m myself more than more than in any other situation. And I don’t know what I would do that.
Will Bachman 24:03
That’s a lovely description. Tell me about are there any classes that you took at Harvard, that have continued to stay with you and that have affected your thinking? And maybe had more of an impact than then than others?
Scott Albert Johnson 24:22
Yeah, I would say so. There are two that come to mind. One was the the class probably a lot of people would say, which is justice. MICHAEL SANDEL. I think freshman year and a first semester freshman year and and just just say kind of quickly, that first semester of freshman year was was a little rough for me in some ways. I mean, it was it was it was an odd dichotomy because on the one hand, I was incredibly excited to be at Harvard, to be in Boston in the Boston area and Cambridge, you know, in the Northeast. East, which was a new experience for me, really, and to meet all these amazing people from all over the world, and I loved it on one level. On another level, I probably like a lot of other people in our class. And in every part of the class, I was sort of grappling with a bit of the imposter syndrome, you know, do I? Why in the world, would anyone think I deserve to be here? Why do I think I deserve to be here? You know, the difficulty of being far from home for the first time, I’m an only child, I was adopted, and very close with my parents. And that was a new experience for me, I’d never even been to summer camp, you know. So I think I only want into a sports camp that was like a, you know, a few days away from home. And so, you know, I got home sick, I had one class I did kind of poorly in. But Justice was a class that first of all, I found to be really very rewarding on an intellectual level. But it I also I did well, and it was something that sort of it was a class, it was an experience that sort of gave me the confidence that even if I was struggling in some areas, and even if I was, you know, kind of having to come to terms with myself, and who I was and what my abilities were, that class sort of showed me that, you know, I could do it. I, I had, you know, I might not be a genius, but I had the I had enough brains that I could have it, I could I could get through it. And I could learn something along the way. And that was an important experience for me. And interestingly, here at the school where I work, we have a course that all all my well all seniors have have to take either ethics or world religion, they have the option of taking either one. And the ethics course, is actually modeled after Michael Sandel justice course that they they, I don’t know if they still use his book as the textbook they did when they first started, started teaching the course or requiring the course. But that’s, that’s kind of the framework of the class. So it you know, even today, I’ll probably have a discussion with a student about that class at some point. So that’s one. The other course was a very small class was a seminar that I took last semester, my senior year, with Professor Lewis major, I know he moved on to another university. I’m not sure where he is now. But it was called the concept of the self in American literature. And I don’t even remember all the stuff we read, I’m pretty sure we read like, you know, some Emerson, Whitman and things like that. But, but I do remember that the term paper the final paper was was pretty open ended in terms of what we could write about, as long as it kind of adhered to the, the, you know, the the basic idea of the course. And I chose to write a paper that was partly about my grandfather, who who had just passed away. My senior year, and which shook me up a little bit is my first grandfather, grandparent to die. And about the stories he used to tell my cousins in Maine when we were growing up about his upbringing, but I related that to an album by Robbie Robertson, the guitarist and the chief songwriter from from the band called Storyville. I related some of the songs on that record and the messages that came from those songs. And I think I still have the paper somewhere I’m not I’m not sure, I think it might be in my folks house. But it was, it was an unusual experience in the academic context, for me in terms of really kind of thinking outside the box, and exercising both both sides of my brain, but particularly the right side of my brain, the more creative side. And really connecting with my love for music and with songwriting and, you know, kind of realizing how big a role those great songwriters had played in my life, people like Robbie Robertson, deep Township, and Bob Dylan staying, you know, the Peter Gabriel, brush me up here, the list kind of goes on. And when I submitted that paper, I got I got a good grade on it. And Professor major have made a comment on telling me that writing is something that you should think about continuing with, that made a big impact on me because it was at the end of college. I was definitely dealing with a lot of uncertainty about the future of what I what I do now. You know, Harvard was very defined, it was like, Okay, you’re going to Harvard, you’re going to you’re gonna have this sort of, you know, I don’t know what you call it, like sort of certification from the, from the gods. And it was very kind of cut and dried while I was now entering A stage of life that was very not cut and dried. That one comment which Professor Mazur probably spent two seconds thinking about, had an outsized impact on me and led me probably to, you know, try out journalism and go to journalism school, and then eventually, you know, sort of find my, my creative outlet, my, my express about what, through songwriting through music. So that meant a lot to me. And I still think about it, I’m actually about to start teaching a course on songwriters and songwriting to students here. And, you know, I could definitely trace at least part of the impulse to do that, back to that, that experience in that class. So, you know, I often tell my students and other people that when I think back on my Harvard experience, I would not say that the academic side of it was what the part that was that I that’s most number memorable to me, not that it was great. And I certainly had a lot of great professors probably should have worked a little harder. But it’s really the people I met. And the the, just the 24/7 challenge in a good way of those relationships with with all the amazing people that made up our class and our and our and the classes above and below us. But that particular academic experience, but both of them justice and that class, do stand out for me.
Will Bachman 31:35
And outside of class, what experiences or people have had an ongoing impact on you, you mentioned football you what other? Like, what’s been the impact on you from all the stuff that happened outside of class?
Scott Albert Johnson 31:55
Well, for one thing, it would definitely be my friends. And in particular, my roommates that I live, I was I was in Mather house, and my mother house roommates, I’m still in touch with all of them and in frequent touch with most of them and really love all of them in different ways. And just the the lasting relationship there, you know, not that we don’t necessarily talk every day, we do have a group tag, a lot of lot of the joking that went on college still kind of continues in that venue, but but just knowing that no matter what, if I needed these guys, I could rely on them is pretty, pretty huge. And it’s not just them. I mean, a lot of other friends I had in college, some of some of whom were my football teammates, others, whom I just knew to other various, you know, settings. That that’s the biggest takeaway. For me, in terms of things I did was at Harvard, couple things, I was a writer for a couple of years for the Harvard independent sports writer. And that was a good experience. Because, you know, it was my first experience really crafting news stories and narratives that weren’t academic narratives. That that was, that was helpful to me, in a lot of ways. And then another one that I can’t say I consciously think about a lot, but which I do think, had had, it had an impact on me at the time that I probably still carry with me in ways that I don’t maybe consciously always recognize, I was involved in city stuff for just for one year, really. And I, I don’t know if, you know, remember that organization, or were involved in it, but it’s a organization that that puts, works with interested in Cambridge kids to put on put on a show and a dance show. And I am far from being a kind of good dancer, despite my musical life, I you know, I have rhythm, but you wouldn’t know if I was to dance. But I was a youth supervisor, I was basically there to just kind of connect with the kids, keep them focused, and but also kind of get to know them. And, and that was pretty, pretty, pretty cool. Because I saw another side of life in the middle of this Harvard bubble. That remains very important to me, you know, Jackson, where I live is a is a great place in terms of creativity and the arts, whatever, but it’s also a pretty, pretty poor city. And lot, a lot of a lot of kids who don’t have the same opportunities that you know, even I as a middle class kid who was attending a private school on scholarship, you know, you know, I had opportunities far beyond what many of these kids have And then that experience with city step was was a chance for me to really kind of better understand that. And to, to, to see how much they appreciated getting that experience with, with, with the the kids from Harvard as their guides. That was, that was that was that was important to me and it’s probably played some role in my mind will be of, you know, never take for granted. The fortunate circumstances that you find yourself in, always remember that there’s someone else when you are facing challenges that has more challenge have as more bigger challenges to face. And you know, that that guides me in a lot of ways politically interpersonally in terms of, you know, the person I chose to spend my life with my wife and I think have very similar values in that regard. So, you know, it do I think about that experience every day. No, but you know, looking back at it, I think I think it was important.
Will Bachman 36:05
The segment is about the about content, the Department of content, what books or songs or albums or films have had an impact on you, that that you’d recommend that we explore particularly any any that are sort of underrated, or, or less well known.
Scott Albert Johnson 36:30
Oh, wow. Yeah. Well, you know, so many gravitate, obviously, toward music, but also towards film and TV. You know, we live in a golden age of TV. So that’s, you know, I’m, my wife and I are streaming vengers just like everybody else. Music. You know, a lot of it’s the usual suspects. I still like a lot of the artists that we grew up with, like the police and Peter, Gabriel and rush and some of the more rootsy stuff like Jeff Beck fan, Stevie Wonder, but then a lot of local musicians here in Jackson, and New Orleans where I still spend a fair amount of time. This guy here in Jackson and Eric straightener, who’s a great songwriter, I recommend people check out very much on the folk folk side of things from us. It’s not something I necessarily listen to all the time. But but but I can recognize good stuff when I hear it. And, and he’s one, you know, I’m a big Randy Newman’s fan. And well, I wouldn’t say that music is similar, I think they’re sort of artistic as ethos is kind of similar. I think mine is kind of similar in at least in the way I try to do things. When it comes to film and TV, I’m one of those people who’s kind of guilty of watching things a lot. You know, partly because they meant a lot to me, and partly because I want to try to catch things I didn’t, didn’t catch before. So with with my kids, and especially my boys who are in in early, high early high school now. I like showing them some of the movies that I grew up with that I think they will be able to relate to so things like Blade Runner and the Godfather, which they watched probably a little little earlier than they should have things like that. Nowadays, I really liked the boys on the show and time, which kind of subverts the superhero genre and I think a really interesting way it’s it’s violent, but I think it’s very good. You know, I like a lot you know, I like a lot of the things that everyone else likes frankly, like like succession i We just finished watching that. First Reading goes, I’m I’m a fan of Chuck Klosterman, I think is a real interesting commentator on on. Pop culture and the modern world don’t always agree with him, but always finding interesting. He’s a big fan of the book Einsteins dreams. How enlightenment I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. He’s a professor at MIT. He’s a physicist, but also he teaches writing and it’s a really interesting book, which is a reimagining of what dreams Einstein may have had in the day leading up to publishing the theory of relativity. And each dream has a different concept of time and how time works. Think it’s really beautiful, really interesting. I really like Bob Dylan’s memoir, Chronicles Volume One, I think it’s really extraordinary. I think I put it up there with any of his music or song songwriting in terms of, you know, his his perspective on the world and on his own experiences. And then there’s a book called a wide world. Why does the world exist by Jim hope? came out a few years ago, which is sort of a survey of different concepts of you know, why is there anything at all why Is there something rather than nothing? Looks at that question from different ontological perspectives different, different, different, you know, philosophers, scientists, religious figures, atheistic figures. Very, very interesting way of trying to grapple with that kind of ultimate question that I could go on for a long time. But, but I guess, another I’m a big fan of Watchmen, the graphic novel, and I thought the HBO show was was very good, that sort of epic view of the world, and our future and the danger sort of inherent in our future. And the way we deal with one another, which I think we’re all hyper aware of right now. Maybe we don’t need me fictional stories like that in ages of COVID. And, and January 6 2020, or 2021. But, you know, I, sort of the larger answer is, I do. And maybe this is from being a right brain person, I get an enormous amount of reward from all forms of artistically grappling with the human condition. And I have so much admiration for anyone that does it, including the you know, the members of our class who, who are our artists, actors, you know, obviously, Matt Damon, Jeff Fletcher, both of whom work they were both friends of mine, both Oscar winners of Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale, and others in our class, Jason Adams, who, who continued to pursue music, obviously, I feel connection with them. So it’s kind of long winded. But you know, like I said, I could go on for a long time about that.
Will Bachman 41:42
The school that you work at sounds like a pretty cool school. I mean, I didn’t have a course in ethics, or justice or world religion, or, or a song core class on songwriters. Tell us a little bit about, are there any ways that you think that your approach to being a college counselor is maybe a bit different than the standard approach? Anything that you believe about? Kind of guiding kids about college that is that maybe not every college counselor would would agree
Scott Albert Johnson 42:14
with? Okay, yeah, that’s, that’s, you’re asking a lot of good questions. So I would say that the fact that I have this life, as a musician, it, it, it can be challenging, personally, but mostly, it’s a good thing for personally. And in terms of my counseling role, that gives me another perspective. On on, you know, unlike and in college, what college is for, and what life is for, you know, obviously, we all have to eat a music career is not necessarily the best, the best way to ensure that, especially with the way your business has changed over the last couple of decades. But I think, you know, it’s not so much necessarily that I approach counseling different from the way other counselors do because I have a great respect for the field, I think I’m my philosophy is pretty much in line with, with the profession as a whole, which is that it is mostly about fit, not about getting into the most prestigious school. It’s not about putting those trophies on your wall, it’s not about it’s not solely about, quote, unquote, return on investment, and is this particular college going to lead to a particular job or a particular grad school acceptance, or particular salary five years out, those things are all important and, and I don’t dismiss them. But I also think college is a very important time for growth. And so I would say, while I may not differ that much in philosophy, from other counselors, I think a lot of people who are standing on the outside of it would be surprised by by, you know, what we say in these meetings? Because I’m really, you know, my school where I work, which also has to be to my own alma mater is a bit unique for for Jackson, Mississippi, and certainly for Mississippi as a whole. I mean, you know, we’re not, we’re kind of known for having a substandard educational system down here as a as a whole. That obviously there are exceptions to that. But, you know, St. Andrews, where I work, it’s the type of school that you know, you could you could plop it down in the middle of Massachusetts or New York and it wouldn’t be out of place. I mean, our kids go, you know, almost every year we send some kids to harbor Gale, you know, other similar schools, certainly, you know, Vanderbilt and places like that, as well as the honors colleges at our State University. It’s a rigorous school and But we probably don’t have the same pressure that some of the better known boarding schools have in terms of, you know, how many Ivy League schools are we sending kids through this year, it doesn’t really feel like that. But, you know, there there is, I do strive to make sure these kids understand that where they go, is not nearly as important from a prestige standpoint as where they go, does it fit them? Is it the right patient? Are they going to be able to thrive? Are they going to do the things they want to do? Are they gonna be able to find their, their tribe, so to speak, and, and that is different for every student. And I probably have a an even more elastic view of what that means, then some counselors because I’ve traveled all these different paths. And, and I’m still following this kind of different paths as a as a working, you know, creative professional. So, you know, I think most counselors that I know, and I work with, and I know from, you know, being in the field, you know, they want to see their kids find the right fit. And for them, it’s not about the prestige, or the or chucking up names of schools on their list or anything like that. But but maybe I have a more lived out understanding of that than than the average? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Will Bachman 46:34
Scott, this has been a fantastic discussion. If listeners wanted to follow up with you, or follow your music, or catch up with what you’re what you’re doing. Where would you point them online,
Scott Albert Johnson 46:46
I would probably give them the best place would be the typical social media, Facebook and Instagram, Twitter to although I don’t use Twitter as much for music stuff. But Facebook and Instagram. I have a website, it’s got Albert Johnson calm at the current moment that we’re discussing this there’s a technical problem, but it’s down but that’ll probably be remedied by the time that they hear this podcast. They can also email me anytime. My email address is scojo harp, that’s SEO Jo, n ch, AR p as in firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always thrilled to hear from anyone in our class or in the classes around us whether I knew them in college or not.
Will Bachman 47:30
Fantastic. And we will get from you your links to your Instagram and Facebook and put those in the show notes. Scott, thanks so much for joining today.
Scott Albert Johnson 47:42
Thank you Well, and thank you for doing this. I think it’s wonderful that you’re highlighting the different experiences that we’ve all had. I think it’s enlightening and really cool for all of us.
Will Bachman 47:53
Thank you very much.