Angry Johnny
by Poe

Songfacts®:

  • In this haunting song, Poe plays the role of Jezebel in Hell, letting "Angry Johnny" know that she's coming to kill him. Jezebel shows up in the Old Testament of The Bible, where she leads followers away from God. Her name is an archetype for a vengeful, deceitful woman, which is how Poe plays her in this song.

    The "Angry Johnny" character can represent the anger boiling inside all of us, even Poe herself. An inspiration on the song, and in Poe's career in general, was the death of her father, a brilliant academic who didn't connect very well with his children. Poe lived on her own after her parents divorced when she was 16, and her father died a few years later.
  • A track from Poe's debut album, "Angry Johnny" got a lot of airplay on radio stations that had adopted a "modern rock" or "alternative" format, but more mainstream stations ignored it. It's one of the more daring songs of the era, musically and lyrically. Poe was on the vanguard with an electronic sound that blended organic instruments to create sonic beds for her stories. She was signed to a major label, Atlantic, who did what they could to promote her, but Poe had little interest in marketing her music unless it was directly to fans on AOL. Her next album didn't appear until five years later, and after that she vanished amid a tangle of legal issues.
  • The musical figure that repeats throughout this song is a sample of "Icy Water," a 1971 track by The Rascals. That song's writer, Felix Cavaliere, had a writing credit on "Angry Johnny" along with Poe and her producer, RJ Rice.
  • Poe chose "Johnny" because it is the All-American name.
  • Poe's brother wrote a book in 2000 called House Of Leaves with a character named Johnny Truant. That character is partly based on this song.
  • Poe toured with Lenny Kravitz while this was gaining popularity.

Comments: 2

  • Jimmy from SeattleI love this song too Heather, though I'm not sure the 'Songfacts.com' staff writer got it entirely correct. First off, there are several versions of 'Angry Johnny' - the "jazzy" version (video above) is the best known, but the "Band Version" is my favorite. Much harder edge - the singer channels her "Angry Poe." That version seems to really nix this site's analysis that it's generic anger, "boiling inside all of us." I hear a definite female rage at man, or men in general. Especially chilling are the closing bars: She exhales/blows harshly into the mic, then calmly speaks a line (damned if I can make out what she says), exhales and speaks another line, then calmly whispers "goodbye" as the fade ends. Seems to me Johnny was fading to black right there - and her anger hath been satiated ... gawd I love it.
  • Heather from Mead, Nei love this song because its so strange and demented.
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