Premiere: Haley Johnsen Returns with Intimate & Enchanting “Goner,” a Song of Loss, Longing, & Hope

Haley Johnsen © 2021
Haley Johnsen © 2021
A dreamy, glistening alt-pop upheaval, Haley Johnsen’s melancholy “Goner” aches with captivating intimacy as the Portland artist bares her soul, dwelling in the dark depths of self.
Stream: “Goner” – Haley Johnsen




I was feeling like my time was slipping away so fast. I was feeling tired… I was feeling shameful that I was letting myself feel so insecure about growing older.

We are sure to experience many kinds of devastating and profound loss in our lives, but one this entire living generation will share is the burden of lost time: The sense that special moments were missed, meaningful memories never made, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities did not come to fruition thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. These feelings of loss are not at all new to the human experience, but they will surely come to define, in some (hopefully small) way, the choices we make and how we all live our lives moving forward.

It’s that communal sense of loss – that we have all let something go; that we are all in some kind of personal mourning – that helps Haley Johnsen’s new single resonate so deeply with those who listen. A dreamy, glistening alt-pop upheaval, the melancholy “Goner” aches with captivating intimacy as the artist bares her soul, dwelling in the dark depths of self.

Goner - Haley Johnsen
Goner – Haley Johnsen
Today I mourned my youth again
Swallowed up in the deep end
Swallowed up in deep end
I might have lost my pride again
Washed up in the shallow end
Washed up in the shallow end
I keep on falling for the same old game
Just like Ive done before
Just like ive done before
Inviting all my pain of my living
To go and take some more
To go and take some more

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Goner,” Haley Johnsen’s cathartic and exhilarating first release of 2021. Known previously for touring and working with artists like Joseph and Big Wild, Portland, Oregon-based Johnsen has in recent years stepped into a spotlight of her own making with a powerful sound that incorporates bits of rock, blues, pop, folks, soul, and more.

Haley Johnsen © 2021
Haley Johnsen © 2021

2019’s debut album Golden Days remains a standout introduction to Johnsen’s multifaceted artistry, and last year’s live album London Sessions (Live From Abbey Road, 2020) puts her jaw-dropping vocal and instrumental talents on full display, finding her captivating in a drastically stripped-down environment. Her first offering since dropping a Christmas single at the end of last year, “Goner” begins a new chapter in Johnsen’s story: One that builds upon Golden Days‘ radiance, while plunging ever-deeper into the artist’s individual psyche and our universal humanity.

Calling to mind the likes of Kacey Musgraves, HAIM, and Caroline Polachek, “Goner” is an existential crisis bottled up in a tight four-minute pop song. Johnsen spills raw fears and insecurities into a wondrous, tight chorus full of lush passion and sweetly seductive energy.

I’m stuck on nostalgia
Now that I am wiser
I can feel the pressure
Hold me under water
I just wanna see me
Live a little longer
I just can’t get over
Don’t wanna be a goner

She may have wrapped her words in warmth, yet they are nevertheless a cry into the darkness.

“I wrote the majority ‘Goner’ in a tiny vintage trailer at the Sou’wester Lodge in Seaview, Washington,” Johnsen tells Atwood Magazine. “The pandemic had just about sucked my creativity dry, so I decided to get away for a solo retreat to write and demo out some new music. I had actually come up with the first line and melody of the song while listening to some instrumental music in the bathtub a few weeks beforehand.”

“I was about to turn 32, and was feeling pretty melancholic about the loss of what could have been such a great year for my growth as an artist and woman. I was feeling like my time was slipping away so fast. I was feeling tired. The lyrics I wrote were, ‘Today I mourned my youth again, swallowed up in the deep end, swallowed up in the deep end.’ I was feeling shameful that I was letting myself feel so insecure about growing older.”

Haley Johnsen © 2021
Haley Johnsen © 2021

I was about to turn 32, and was feeling pretty melancholic about the loss of what could have been such a great year for my growth as an artist and woman.

Can I feel at home again
Sinking in no fighting it
Sinking in no fighting it
All my fears and coulda beens
Farther than they’ve ever been
Father than they’ve ever been
I’ve gotta hold onto every moment
Make it the only one
Make it the only one
I can’t keep fighting every crashing wave
You know I’m not that strong
You know I’m not that strong

Johnsen herself thinks of this song as a “sun-drenched melancholic daydream,” and the description fits: Her radiant vocals soar over effected guitars and a dulcet ’70s-esque folk rock beat, and she comes to life in an enchanting chorus dripping with bright, buoyant, and full-bodied harmonies. “Goner” is a beautiful hypnosis – the kind of song you can lose yourself in and simply “slip away” with.

“As I continued to finish the song in the trailer, the song flowed like a stream and told its story to me,” she recalls, continuing her story. “It came to be about the romanticization of nostalgia; the longing for what once was our youth, and also the fear of death. It’s about my own internal struggle trying to stay present and at peace with who I am now, where I am now, and realize that my childlike self is still very much alive in me. It’s a reminder that I don’t need to be afraid or insecure with where I am in my life.”

Haley Johnsen © 2021
Haley Johnsen © 2021

“Goner” intoxicates the ears with a dramatic, emotional, and fantastically impassioned outpouring. It is by definition nostalgic, yet Johnsen yearns to look forward; it dwells in sadness and sorrow, yet Johnsen longs to be hopeful and optimistic. This song speaks to her journey through loss and healing – of losing herself and finding her way back, so-to-speak. For all those who have experienced loss – whether it’s internal, romantic, a loved one’s passing, or related to time itself – you can find a home in “Goner.”

Stream Haley Johnsen’s new single exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

I’m stuck on nostalgia
Now that I am wiser
I can feel the pressure
Hold me under water
I just wanna see me
Live a little longer
I just can’t get over
Don’t wanna be a goner

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Stream: “Goner” – Haley Johnsen



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Goner - Haley Johnsen

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