Once again & once more again on Johnny Cash :-)

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Thu Sep 18 23:56:41 MDT 2003


Love those classic L. Trotsky titles... but here is something that was sent
to me about Johnny Cash. Haven't been able to find where it came from, so
I'll just have to post the whole text.

Why Johnny Cash mattered to me

I first heard Johnny Cash over the radio singing "Folsom Prison" when I was
8 or 9 years old. Like every other revelatory music I have experienced
before or since, it represented a mystery that I needed to understand.

It was not until I read "Cash" - his 1997 autobiography that I began to
fully realize the profound and tenuous connection to a disappearing reality
that Johnny Cash represented.

When I went to school in Erie Pa. in the early 60's I was amazed that many
of  my black schoolmates had picked cotton only a few years before
migrating north. What the hell was that!?? That was sharecropping, a
reality that Johnny
Cash - Carl Perkins and many other poor whites shared with their
Afro-American brethren-A reality in rapid irrevocable transition.

Millions had and continued to trade the brutal marginal existence in the
rural south for a slightly less brutal life in the factories of Detroit,
Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oakland. The transformative energy released in
this post WWII migration unleashed Rock and Roll.

Johnny Cash had a rock and roll heart. He did not romanticize "farm livin'"
- he was getting the hell out of there! He was not hiding his light. He was
not shuffling, and he was not apologizing-not apologizing for being what he
was.

Johnny Cash tells a story in his book about the armed robbery of his home
in Jamaica where young Jamaican toughs forced him and his family to the
floor of his mansion at gun point. Cash amazingly reflects on this not with
a vengeful mind but by identifying very personally with the robbers!!-what
he may well have become! You won't hear many of the cornball fakers in
today's Nashville scene do that. They are too busy roaring about kicking
foreign butt or  babbling about an idyllic south that never existed-and
fuck them.

Johnny Cash was a giant and as conflicted and flawed as a giant has the
right to be. But there is a reason he was loved by people of every race and
nationality. There was a reason his life was threatened by the KKK. He sang
our collective frustrated dream and he rolled across the stage kicking out
the footlights, defying the authorities, and scaring hell out of every fool
who got in the way. But you knew that if you treated him fairly and as an
equal you would be respected, if not loved, in return.

The rural south that birthed Johnny Cash and the fire within him is
basically gone and many who loved him haven't a clue where he was "coming
from". But legends are legends after all. Those of us who long for freedom
and hear the "train a coming" from our lonely places in the world will
always welcome that Voice.

Long live the Man in Black!

Andy Willis


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