A Tribute to CSB/SJU: Mat Kearney’s BENNIE & JOHNNIE Song

June 7, 2012

I’m a bit late to the game with this one, as it was released a month ago… but that was right during the chaos of our move, so I made a mental note to come back to it.  Better late than never, right?  RIGHT!

First, some history:

One of my favorite traditions each year during College at CSB/SJU was going to the outdoor spring concert on Watab Island.  At that time it was called Pinestock, but it’s since been renamed 12 pines.  I have fond memories of doing backstage crew for the show since I was on the Event Programming Board.  We were lucky enough to see Ben Harper, Soul Coughing and Train when I was there, but honestly, I would have given my left arm to see this year’s show – Mat Kearney.  He’s one of my fave Acoustic Singer Songwriters of all time.

So not only did he put on an amazing show for the students this year, but he was so moved by the experience at CSB/SJU (note: this does not surprise me one bit, this place is like nowhere else on earth) that he wrote a song the next day called Bennie & Johnnie.

Here’s what Mat had to say about his decision to write the song:

As we drove away from 12 Pines, the most energetic acoustic show I have ever played, I kept seeing in my mind two young people, cars packed full, pulling out of their driveways, leaving home to become a Bennie and a Johnnie for the first time. I got out a note pad and started writing their story, which of course was a love story. I recorded the song in my home the next day. I thought it would be make a nice thank you for a memorable night.

So sweet Mat!  You would make a wonderful Johnnie.

For those not familiar with the Colleges or Minnesota, here’s a helpful reference guide for the song:

  • Students at the College of Saint Benedict are fondly referred to as Bennies; students of Saint John’s University, Johnnies.
  • The schools are right off Hwy 94, so nearly EVERYONE takes hwy 94 to school.
  • Sal’s is a popular bar in Saint Joseph, MN, where CSB is.
  • Lake Sagatagan is one of several lakes on the SJU campus.
  • Bells- refers to the bells on famous Abbey Church’s bell banner.
  • Aspens: Lots of those on campus
  • Chapel Walk – Johnnie and Bennie couples that take the chapel walk around Lake Sag eventually marry 83% of the time.  At least that’s what the rumor is…
And now, without further ado, here’s the lovely little ditty for you to enjoy!

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