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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

"Thirsty Thursday" Featuring John McDonough

Thank you for talking with us John! You recently released your new single, “Nowhere Else To Run,” that you also wrote. Tell us about the writing process and where the idea came from. I am a huge history buff and specifically a WWII buff. I was in Berlin a few years ago, and there is a monument there called the Neue Wacha (New Guardhouse). It is an extremely moving monument where buried under a stone statue of a mother holding her dead son are the remains of an unknown concentration camp survivor and an unknown German soldier. They are buried in dirt from a concentration camp, and inscribed in front of the statue is the sentence, “Dedicated to the victims of war and tyranny.” I came back to Texas and could not get this monument out of my head, so I wrote “Nowhere Else To Run.” In my song the concentration camp victim is talking to the German soldier and trying to find some comfort in their situation. It is very emotional and moving, and people really respond to the story and the song.

What's the story behind your album's title? My new album that was released on March 17th, 2021 is called ‘Second Chances.’ It’s an acoustic CD of songs from my 2014 release, ‘Dreams and Imagination,’ and my 2016 release, ‘Surrounding Colors.’ I have worked very hard on my guitar playing the last 7 years, and one benefit of the pandemic was I was able to have the time to create more engaging guitar parts for some songs off of ‘Dreams and Imagination.’ I went more electric on ‘Surrounding Colors,’ and while I am proud of that CD, I always felt that the songs would really shine if they were done acoustically, as they were written. I felt the 10 songs I chose for my 2021 release were very good, they just needed a ‘Second Chance,’ and to be recorded as I currently perform them live.

Where do you draw inspiration from when writing? I am always reading and watching documentaries. I am a huge history buff and I love learning of peoples stories where they overcome adversity and thrive in their lives. I always joke that my life is really boring, in a good way, in that there is not a lot of drama. I can only write so many songs about love, or lack of love, before I get really bored with that. I often use other peoples stories, people who have lived through things I could never experience, like war, going to space, winning an olympic gold medal, etc., as inspiration for my songs. I find their stories so moving, and it makes me feel good to give my little shout out to those who deserve it.

What song that you have recorded means the most to you and why? “You Don’t Know This,” means the most to me. I wrote this for my niece when she was about 6 months old. I was going through a very difficult time personally and professionally and was very depressed. My little sister, who I am very close with, was single and decided to have a baby with artificial insemination. I left Texas to help my sister for the first year of my nieces life, and it was a wonderful time. I was able to focus on them, help them, and it really helped me get through my own personal issues. My niece is now ten, I just rerecorded this song on my new acoustic CD called ‘Second Chances,’ and I just recently moved to the Chicago area to be close to her.

Looking back, what was the first album or "Vinyl" you bought? I was ten and I bought the album “Taxi” by Harry Chapin. That song and his voice had such an influence on me and I wore that album out. I still love it all these years later and people often say that I sound like Harry Chapin when I sing.

What is your favorite wine? I used to drink Kendall Jackson Chardonnay like there was no tomorrow. That might have something to do with why I haven’t had a drink of any kind in over 23 years!!!

Home cooking or going out for dinner? I cannot cook to save my life, and I don’t enjoy cooking, so I am all about going out to eat. I probably eat out 5 nights a week. Also, I love to read, and I love to go to my favorite restaurants by myself, read and enjoy a good meal. Luckily my sister is a very good cook, and since the pandemic hit, I still go out to eat about 5 nights a week, just to her house instead of a restaurant!

What's on your pizza? Do you fold your pizza or eat it straight on? Ranch or no ranch? I also live on Pizza, it is definitely my favorite food. My usual is cheese and black olives, but sometimes I like black olives and green peppers and sometimes I like cheese and pineapple. I eat it straight and no ranch.

If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? Billy Jean King, Jim Lovell, Ruby Bridges, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Four incredibly strong individuals who changed the world for the better.

If you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand, who would it be and why? I practically live on Cliff bars. I eat one for breakfast, I have them for snacks, I have them during gigs if I am hungry, and I take one to bed with me in case I wake up in the middle of the night and am hungry. Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia, Coconut Chocolate Chip, and Sierra Trail Mix are my favorites.


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