Now Playing: Freedy Johnston, “The Lucky One”

Ignore the fact that in this video he looks like a scary cross between Giovanni Ribisi and a serial-killer version of Jerry Seinfeld. Also, what’s up with the blindfold? Get past all that, and this is a beautiful song.

Throughout the 1990s Freedy Johnston consistently delivered strong albums of vividly illustrated story-songs. In a review of 1999’s Blue Days Black Nights I did for a newspaper in New Orleans I compared his ability to create indelibly drawn characters to Springsteen’s. In retrospect, I think Freedy in his heyday was actually better at it. “The Lucky One,” from 1992’s Can You Fly, is a perfect example, and shows how deft he was at creating moving music that underlined and enhanced the story (the spare slide guitar here really makes the song, in my opinion).

Johnston had a minor alt-rock-radio hit with “Bad Reputation” from 1994’s major-label debut This Perfect World, which is perhaps his best-known album and earned him kudos from Rolling Stone as “Songwriter of the Year.” (The superb, haunting title track from that album also appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Kingpin.) He’s well worth getting to know better.

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