Cody Johnson Performs Merle Haggard’s ‘If We Make It Through December’ [WATCH]

Cody Johnson just put his own magical spin on a country music classic. The Texan performed Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” a song that has a deep personal meaning to him, as part of his televised A Cody Johnson Christmas, which premiered on December 13 on CMT.

Ahead of his TV special, Johnson shared why the Haggard song meant so much to him, recalling a time early in his career when he was especially despondent. He and his wife, Brandi, were out of money, with their bank account overdrawn, when Johnson gave their last $20 bill to a family member as a Christmas present.

“We were very young, very fresh in our marriage and that hit me hard,” Johnson recalls to CMT. “‘If We Make It Through December’ came on the radio on the way home, and I was biting my cheek trying not to cry.”

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for things to turn around for the couple. When they got home, Johnson got the mail, and found two $2500 checks from ASCAP, royalties for his songwriting.

“I walked back in the house, hit my knees and showed her the checks,” Johnson recalls “We sat there and cried and ate leftovers from my parents’ house. I’ll never forget that song for that reason.”

Johnson’s Leather album is out now. The 12-track record, the first of two parts, is his own stamp on country music, in his own unique way.

“This is where Cody Johnson is in his life personally and creatively,” Johnson told CMT when the record was released. “Now, next year, you’re going to get the second half and it’s going to be the deluxe edition. We’ll talk about that Cody then.”

Included on Leather is Johnson’s current single,  “The Painter,” a tribute to his wife, Brandi.

“She’s tougher than I am, but you kind of have to be a little tough if you’re going to be with me,” Johnson said on Apple Music Country’s Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen. “It’s not all frills and rainbows. But she’s definitely the motor behind a lot of this, and I admit that. There are times where I come home and I’m like, ‘I am so overwhelmed. There’s so much going, and it’s all good stuff.

“I’m releasing a record,” he continued. “I’m going out of the country to go play. We’re on this award show and we’re traveling to here, and I just can’t take it anymore.’ And she’s going, ‘Yeah, you can. You’re doing a great job.’”

Johnson will kick off his The Leather Tour on January 19 in Sacramento, California. Find music and tour dates at