JOHN DILLON – Recovery Musician

Performing Songwriter in Long Term Recovery Shares Message of Hope, Help & Healing

John Dillon is a singer/songwriter, radio producer, guitar-maker and author in long-term recovery from substance use disorder. In 2022 he released HOPE ROAD an album of 12 songs that trace his journey from ’60s psychedelia to full-blown addiction in the ’80s, and finally to a life of sobriety and spiritual growth in the ’90s and beyond.

John performs recovery music and facilitates creative writing workshops at treatment and recovery centers throughout the Northeast.

“These songs are an effective way to carry the message of hope, help and healing to fellow travelers like me AND those who want a deeper and richer understanding of the power of addiction and the promise and possibility of recovery.”

William C. Moyers, VP Public Affairs & Community Relations, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
Lighthouse Project CD/Book Release Concert with Vivian Nesbitt at Caffè Lena

John’s Story

During the 1960s hippie movement, the mind-altering substances were part of the culture, part of the adventure. For three days in August of 1969, John soaked up the music, the mud and the vibe at Woodstock, and a few months later decided to drop out of college to get a ‘real’ education. Sacramento to Cheyenne brings to life his years of traveling the country via thumb and freight train.

John settled in a New Mexico new age spiritual community, where he didn’t drink or use drugs for 8 years. When his marriage broke up and he left the group, the drugs and alcohol returned. 

Years later and re-married, he found himself leading The Double Life, one while he was on the road working for the family business, and the other while he was home with his wife and children. John’s Addiction had reached a point where he could no longer get through a day without drinking or using. The inner torture became a War (a song written by his son, Jackson).

In White Flag, John recalls a ‘divine intervention’ in the form of a run-in with the law. His true recovery journey began at Marworth Treatment Center in 1992. His cover of the John Hiatt song Thirty Years of Tears describes the rehab experience.

Subsequent songs on the album show how John has maintained sobriety and spiritual growth through Learning to Serve and much Gratitude. Chesapeake Bay acknowledges that even in sobriety, life can present serious challenges. The album closes with the title song Hope Road, which offers encouragement to listeners by describing what’s possible in a sober life.

HOPE ROAD – from Addiction to Recovery

CD or Digital Download. Pay what you wish!

STREAMING ALERT! You may have heard that streaming a song only pays a fraction of a penny to the artist. If you choose to stream Hope Road AND wish to support our work of spreading the recovery message, please consider making a contribution:

WE WANT THIS MUSIC TO BE HEARD BY ANYONE IN NEED – If you are able, please make a contribution to help offset costs and get this message of hope to more people. Thank you!

LISTEN NOW to selected tracks:

White Flag – A ‘divine intervention’ in the form of a run-in with the law
The Help I Need is there if I’m honest, open, and willing
Learn to Serve – Helping others is a key to recovery
Gratitude – Helps me maintain a spiritual connection

“John is a highly devoted musician who is passionate about bringing his music to the recovery community. His innovative approach involves interactive workshops and music sessions that expand the notion of recovery. Through creative writing and music, participants can explore their issues, challenges, hopes, and dreams. John’s unique ability to connect with people touches many lives and gives hope to those who suffer.”

Deb Rhoades, LCSW, CASAC, CARC, & Founder of Rhoades to Recovery.
Hope Road CD Release Concert at Caffe Lena with Vivian Nesbitt (Photo credit Joe Deuel)

JOHN DILLON is recognized for his work as producer and co-host (along with his wife Vivian Nesbitt) of Art of the Song a one-hour program about songwriting and creativity heard across America on over 100 public radio stations. His book The 20-20 Creativity Solution gives readers a step-by-step process to enhance their creativity. As a luthier, John has built over 80 custom guitars for the likes of Hank Williams, Jr., Trisha Yearwood, the Mavericks and Steve Earle. 

John lives on a farm in upstate New York with Vivian, her mother, two dogs, two horses and lots of guitars.

Email John: john dot artofthesong at gmail dot com


Heartache and struggle take us by the hand in John Dillon’s new album, HOPE ROAD. With clarity and confident musicality his words, music and images wind us on our way from free-wheeling, indulgent youth to catastrophic heartbreak. Then step-by-step, he walks us back to the road of hope. 

John Dillon’s album is too true to be a happy journey, but the album is full of surprise, gentle humor and honesty. The songs are often sad but hold on… just around the corner there’s new faith, new love, new joy! HOPE ROAD is an album, an experience, that breaks your heart and warms your soul with courage and with hard-fought possibilities. – Michael Oakes, writer/actor/director

Songwriter John Dillon’s “Hope Road” is filled with warm, sinuously melodic Americana odes, appropriately peppered with flashes of fiddle, dobro and bouzouki, the latter from modern folk legend Joe Jencks. What’s more, hewing to its subtitle, “from Addiction to Recovery,” “Hope Road” serves as a redemptive song cycle that will prove a boon companion to those finding themselves on a similar path. – Michael Eck, writer/musician/songwriter

Feedback from Treatment Patients

“Very much liked the songs and musical instrumentals, especially the harmonica. Thought John’s music was heartfelt and well written from experience, and it will help me keep sober and learn from the pain and experience of so many others in my recovery journey.”

“John is very engaging and has a calming presence. He is an entertaining performer. He should continue his concert series here in the future. It’s very therapeutic. Thank you, John!”

“The man really knows what he is doing. He gives me a blast of hope!”

“The very first song got a huge impact in myself. I was feeling down and the lyrics and the mellow mood made me cry. After all the songs it was helpful for me.”

“I seriously think that it was great. Really soothing. It had me relaxed and feeling pretty damn good.”

“I don’t typically listen to this type of music, however the message touched me and I related so much and absolutely loved it! Thank you a billion!”

“…showed that we can have a good, meaningful life in recovery and do anything we want, if we stay sober… thank you for bringing joy and recovery to us!!”

“Your music is so inspirational. Your story is amazing. I love the way you play. Keep on truckin’!”

“Thank you so much for bringing your heart and soul – your music – to us today. Your words touched me… you remind me of Pete Seeger…”

New Album Just Released!

“This project reflects a new generation of creative works that are simultaneously acts of self-healing and acts of service — sources of profound hope and inspiration…”

William White, Author: Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America

After the release of his album Hope Road, John was invited to join an online group of folks who are using creative writing as a means to enhance their recovery. They started collaborating on song lyrics, which he then put to music and began recording. The Lighthouse Project, a collection of 16 recovery songs, is now available as a book and CD. Click Here!

Creative Writing Workshops & Collaborative Songwriting

John offers creative writing and songwriting workshops at treatment and recovery centers. Listen to a collection of songs written with patients at R. E. Blaisdell ATC, Hospitality House, and New Hope Manor:

John performs HOPE ROAD for the patients at Conifer Park Treatment Center in New York

John is available to perform RECOVERY MUSIC CONCERTS at treatment centers, colleges, coffeehouses, churches, recovery centers and anywhere the message of recovery is welcome. Email John for more information: john dot artofthesong at gmail dot com

Upcoming Events

Great news! The Sober Song Circle at Healing Springs is now a MONTHLY event. Every 3rd Monday at 5pm!

  • July 13, 2:00 pm – Lighthouse Project Album Release Concert, Caffè Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • July 15, 5 pm – John hosts Sober Song Circle at Healing Springs, Saratoga Springs NY
  • July 25 & 26 – Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center – Concert & Writing Workshop (closed)
  • August 19, 5 pm – John hosts Sober Song Circle at Healing Springs, Saratoga Springs NY
  • August 8, 2 pm – Concert at New Hope Manor Treatment Center (closed)
  • August 22 & 23 – Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center – Concert & Writing Workshop (closed)
  • August 24, 5 – 9 pm – Friends of Recovery – Oswego, NY – Writing Workshop and Concert
  • September 7 – Sober Music Festival, Bennington, VT
  • September 28 – Sunflower Alley Sober Music Festival, Saratoga Lake, NY

“I have seen the positive effect John’s music has had on our patients. There is a connection to his story that provides a message of hope for their recovery through the healing power of music. The songs that he writes with the guys each month provide a creative outlet to express their story and the experiences they share as they recover from their addiction. He has been a wonderful and important addition to our program when he performs each month. The patients look forward to him coming back.” 

– Louise Vittorio, CASAC, SUD Counselor, R.E. Blaisdell Treatment Center, Orangeburg, NY

“…a wonderful, humble performer whose passion is to share the story of his life from addiction to recovery. Singing songs with lyrics that are meaningful and relatable, he takes the audience along on his personal journey. Many of our folks who are new to recovery (currently in detox or treatment) really resonated with his message, giving them hope.”

– Abagail Bernard, Activities Director, Conifer Park Treatment Center, Glenville, NY


Art of the Song special – Viv Nesbitt interviews John about Hope Road. LISTEN NOW!

LISTEN NOW to John’s interview with Ron Olesko on WFDU’s TRADITIONS here.

LISTEN NOW – Interview with Chris Wienk on WEXT

“I love the lyrics… a wonderful way to carry a message of hope for recovery… a new resource for the recovery advocacy movement.”

– William L. White, Emeritus Sr. Research Consultant, Chestnut Health Systems, Past-chair, Recovery Communities United

“…beautiful soulful ballads that speak to the pain and restoration of addiction and recovery.”

Lori Drescher, Founder, Trainer, Recovery Coach University

John’s Book on Creativity

Click to Order!

John Dillon delves deep into the often illusive concept of creativity, making it easy to understand andthrough a simple step-by-step processeasy for anyone to access. He makes a compelling case that awakening your inner creativity is not only worthy but necessary for success in the 2020s. By practicing the principles taught in this book you’ll begin integrating with your Authentic Self which is naturally abundant, joyful, and infinitely creative.