CONCORD, N.C. – This summer, Hendrick Motorsports has launched a brand-new Spotify account, and to mark the occasion, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers and some special guests have shared their very own playlists.
This week, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson rounds out the summer music series with his playlist.
“Music’s a happy place,” Johnson said. “It really is for me.”
As a father of two girls, Johnson said what he’s listening to has changed “dramatically” in recent years.
That, of course, means more soundtracks like Disney’s “Frozen” and artists that might not have been on his radar before, such as Taylor Swift and Adele.
It also means he’s more cognizant of lyrical content.
“We continue to let our guard down and then we’re surprised that they will hear something that maybe we haven’t or had forgotten about,” he said of paying attention to language.
But he and his wife Chandra are still making sure to pass on their taste in music, sprinkling in “retro” acts among their daughters’ – Genevieve, 8, and Lydia, 4 – current favorites.
“We’re loading them up with some good old music,” he said. “John Denver seems to be something that Lydia’s very into. She actually has one of his albums and loves to play it. We’re trying to give them a lot of options to pull in, especially some of the older stuff that needs to stay alive.”
After all, Johnson’s parents did the same with him as a child.
His mother recently gifted him her vinyl collection, which brought back plenty of memories. From Led Zeppelin and The Doors to Alice Cooper and the Doobie Brothers, he picked up a lot of influences from his parents.
“Music was definitely popular in our house,” Johnson recalled. “A lot of rock ‘n’ roll.”
While there’s some of that on his Spotify playlist, Johnson said his taste can be broken down into “three prongs” – the alternative and grunge music he loved in high school, country music he began discovering after moving to Wisconsin early in his racing career, and artists his wife has introduced to him.
“My wife is on the cutting edge and really enjoys finding new artists, emerging artists,” he explained. “There are many songs that I know from her that aren’t popular and, before I know it, they’re on the radio.”
"Music's a happy place. It really is for me."Jimmie Johnson
Johnson said he listens to music most often when he’s driving or riding his bike, and, whether he means to or not, he tends to gravitate to songs that conjure up happy memories.
“I oftentimes go back to my high school days when I had my first car and could control the music,” he smiled. “I had those moments in high school and road trips and things like that. A lot of that for me is really that alternative rock, grunge era. Pearl Jam, Nirvana. I guess even a little before that, Guns N’ Roses. That whole era of time just brings back so many great memories.”
So, it’s no surprise that those artists made his playlist alongside some of the country artists he enjoys like Eric Church and Chris Stapleton and even some classic rock that reminds him of trips in the car with his parents.
For Johnson, listening to music is all about the boost it can provide.
“If I’m down for whatever reason it might be, music just has such a great way to lift things up,” he said. “It can help you start a day or it can help a workout session. I have a few anthems that I go back to when I’m in need of pickup that I’ll play. It’s always been a mood-lifting experience for me.”
And that’s exactly what he hopes his playlist will do for anyone listening to it.
“Hopefully, I can trigger something along that car ride or workout session or just hanging out in the house prepping some dinner or grilling or something,” he said. “Just those casual moments. I would hope to inspire some positive thought or bring back a memory for somebody.”