"In Color" is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Jamey Johnson. It is the first single from his second album, That Lonesome Song, which was initially released to digital retailers in 2007, and was released on August 5, 2008 on Mercury Nashville Records. Johnson co-wrote the song with James Otto and Lee Thomas Miller. In January 2009, "In Color" became Johnson's first Top Ten country hit. The song was later included on the compilation album, Now That's What I Call Country Volume 2, in 2009.

The song won awards for Song of the Year in both the 2008 ACM Awards and the 2009 CMA Awards.


The song (a largely acoustic ballad) is narrated by a boy who's asking his grandfather about some photographs, noticing that some of them are in black-and-white and aren't very clear. The grandfather explains to his grandson what the photographs represent, as each showcase a different stage in the grandfather's life.

  • 1.) The first photograph is from 1935, and it shows the grandfather (who was 11 at the time) and his brother, named "Joe," working a cotton farm during the Great Depression.
  • 2.) The second photograph is from the winter of 1943 during World War II, the grandfather mentions an old military friend of his named Johnny McGee, who the grandfather explains was a high school teacher from New Orleans, Louisiana. The grandfather and Johnny stuck together until the end of the war, when they finally went back home.
  • 3.) The third and final photograph mentioned (which the grandfather claims is his favorite one) is a photograph that was taken on the narrator's grandparents' wedding day. The wedding took place in June and the grandfather remembers how hot it was that day and how beautiful the grandmother was on that day.

Describing the instances in each photos, the old man recalls his own life story to his grandson, telling him, "you should have seen it in color" (i.e., that the grandson would have had to be there himself to know what each experience was truly like).

Music videoEdit

A music video was shot for "In Color" in May 2008. It portrays Johnson sitting on a stool, playing acoustic guitar and singing, with various black-and-white photographs (which Johnson borrowed from his grandmother) spread out on the floor around him. Eventually, color begins to sweep across the photos from the outside, working its way in until Johnson himself is also in color.



The song received a "thumbs up" rating from Brady Vercher of Engine 145. Vercher described the lyrics favorably, saying that they contained "vivid and emotive imagery without becoming overwrought", also saying "[t]he production stays out of the way of the vivid stories and adds a richness and expressiveness[…]Johnson may not be the most gifted vocalist as far as range goes, but he is more than capable and knows how to interpret a song for good effect. Needless to say, he nails the delivery in this song."


"In Color" debuted at number 57 on the Hot Country Songs chart dated April 19, 2008. The song spent a total of 40 weeks as an active single on the country charts, and became the first Top 10 hit of Johnson's career, peaking at number 9 on the week of January 10, 2009. In addition, the song peaked at number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 the same week. The song was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on June 9, 2010. It has sold 1,340,000 copies in the United States as of February 2016.

Awards and nominationsEdit

"In Color" won "Song of the Year" at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 5, 2009. It was also nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song at the 51st Grammy Awards.


  • Trace Adkins was originally slated to record the song, until Johnson asked Adkins' permission to record the song himself. Adkins did record the song as an iTunes exclusive bonus track on his 2008 album, X.
  • Although it's never mentioned how old the grandfather is or even when his birthday is, the grandfather was likely born in either 1923 or 1924--also, the WW2-photograph that he shows his grandson that he claims was taken in 1943, the grandfather was likely only around 19 or 20 when it was taken (possibly 18 at the absolute youngest).