I hear that train a-comin'...
September 14, 2003
I can't believe it. Johnny Cash finally dropped dead.
Not that it should be a surprise or anything - Johnny Cash has looked like death on two legs for at least ten years now! However, he has still managed, seemingly against all odds, to put out four brilliant albums in the past six years, leaving us with a plethora of songs to remember him by.
Johnny always knew how to sing a song - from the days in the 1950's, back at Sun Records, to his final work with Rick Rubin on last year's "American IV: The Man Comes Around". His deep and honest voice brought home every line as though it was his own. Cover songs that weren't that good in the first place (U2's "One", for one) held new poignancy when uttered by the Man in Black. Cash drew no boundaries around his musical palette, gathering songs from artists as diverse as Nick Cave, Glenn Danzig, Kris Kristofferson, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Neil Diamond, and Hank Snow, somehow making all of them seem like they were pulled from the bowels of his very own soul (do souls have bowels?).
Johnny Cash brought together fans of all kinds of music, and all kinds of people. It was said that he would treat prisoners, presidents, and peddlers with equal respect and dignity. Not being much of a country music fan myself, I have to say that Johnny Cash was the ONLY common musical ground I ever shared with my father, who never made it past the AM dial in his truck.
As was the case when I first listened to Nirvana after hearing that Kurt Cobain was dead, Cash's songs are even more haunting, especially his prehumous eulogy, his cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt". Hurt indeed. Having lost his wife and soulmate, June Carter Cash, Johnny spent no extra time hanging around this earth - he quickly "moved on" as one predicted he might without June at his side. Shakespeare himself couldn't have penned a finer couple, so it seems only fitting that they both "exit stage left" months apart from one another. Johnny wouldn't have had it any other way.
He had some big boots, boots which will probably never be filled by another mere mortal.
Today, the world is a little more black without the Man in Black.
IFILM - I Still Miss
Someone: a Johnny Cash tribute...