To the editor:

I work at a store where there are varied musical preferences - so varied, in fact, that there is continuous bickering over what gets played.Several weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to receive a promotional copy of a tape by an oddly named band - the Cowboy Junkies. Something very unusual happened. Everybody loved it! It's rare among our diversified group to find agreement on the merits of any music, much less unanimous acclaim, but it happened with the Cowboy Junkies.

Consequently, we were all stunned by Jerry Johnston's abusive review in the Feb. 25 Deseret News. Although none of us are of the pointy-toe boot or ratted and lacquered hair persuasion, we do admire a well-written, inspiring song, regardless of its genre. The recordings of several country music "chestnuts" in a non-traditional style - as if they were normal songs - may be heretical to Jerry (we're also friends of his), but to many of us who balk at country music's pretentious nasal drawl, inbred predictability and stockyard bellowing, the real beauty of these songs has been made accessible for the first time by the CJs.

Perhaps it was a mistake having a notoriously hardline country conformist like Jerry review a rock album. At most, only half the songs "covered" by the CJs have been rehabilitated from country music. Others originated in folk, gospel and rock.

Regardless of the origin of these various tunes, they all share the continuity of inspired instrumentation and Margo Timmins' intimate vocal style. The only adjective we share with Jerry in describing the CJs is "haunting," although for him it's a minus and for us it's a heartfelt plus.

Jerry accuses the CJs of being passionless, but his accusation only mirrors his insensitivity to genuine musical passion without a Nashville accent and the requisite "twang."

Jose Knighton

and five others

Salt Lake City