When Amanda Watkins, former member of the country duo Miss Willie Brown, set out on her solo career, she struck up a friendship with Jamey Johnson, who took her on tour as his opening act. During her nightly performance of her song “If I Was Over You,” Johnson would often amble onstage to harmonize on the chorus. Recently, the pair captured the heartbreaking song in the studio — as a duet.
The idea was all Johnson’s, according to Watkins, who says the independent Alabama singer tinkered with her finished track after hours in the studio, adding his unmistakable baritone. After receiving a late night text to come to RCA Studio A, where she recorded her upcoming debut album and where Johnson has his Nashville office, Watkins says she was surprised with the finished song.
“Jamey said, ‘I did some changes. I hope you are OK with them.’ They took the band out of the first two verses, so it is just acoustic guitar. When Jamey came in, I realized he had made it a duet and I started crying,” Watkins said in a statement.
Written by Watkins and Rivers Rutherford, “If I Was Over You” begins with a single guitar and Watkins’ dusky voice, before Johnson comes in with a verse of his own: “If I was over you, I’d stop calling you names/telling everyone you were just an old flame/if I was over you.” As the band enters, the two singers marry their vocals — “I want my man,” sings Watkins; “I want my woman,” echoes Johnson — both equally full of sorrow and yearning. Like the pull of a lost lover, it’s a song you just can’t forget.
Watkins will perform at CMA Music Festival this June, while Johnson continues his seemingly endless touring. He launched his own label, Big Gassed Records, late last year and recently released the swinging love song “You Can.”