Enhanced Recovery through Music & Creative Writing

John Dillon is a singer/songwriter, radio producer, guitar-maker and author in long-term recovery from substance use disorder. In 2022 he released 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

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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 – A powerful way to connect with Source

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.

“John’s journey through these emotional recovery songs is raw and real. I found myself being drawn into my own dark past and the path to peace and sobriety as the inspiration of this message washed over me. It’s a wonderful reminder that true recovery in sobriety is possible.”

– Patrick D.
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.”

Upcoming Events

  • June 10 – Columbia County Pathways to Recovery – Spaghetti Dinner and Recovery Concert, Ghent Reformed Church, 1039 CR-22, Ghent, NY
  • June 22 & 23 – Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center – Concert & Writing Workshop (closed)
  • June 29 – 1:00pm – Recovery Concert, New Choices Recovery Center, 728 State St., Schenectady, NY
  • July 1 – 8:30 pm – Recovery Concert, Hive of Hope, 161 Central Ave,  Albany, NY
  • July 27 & 28 – Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center – Concert & Writing Workshop (closed)
John performs HOPE ROAD for the patients at Conifer Park Treatment Center in New York

John is available to perform HOPE ROAD 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

Creative Writing Workshops

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. These songs will be released as an album later this year.

John has developed this collaborative songwriting process into an in-person workshop which he offers at treatment and recovery centers throughout the state of New York.

“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 interviews John about Hope Road. LISTEN NOW!

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

LISTEN NOW – Interview with Chris Wienk on WEXT wextradio.org

“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.