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Quiet day

I know I was expecting it. And after June died a couple of months ago, I knew he'd not be long in following her. I thought I was prepared, I thought I'd be sad but accepting. But no, yesterday's news hit me like a punch in the gut. I feel like someone in my own family has died. I know I sometimes get a little weirdly attached to celebrities, but Johnny Cash's voice and face has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember laughing at "A Boy Named Sue" and "One Piece At A Time." I remember loving the bass rumble of "Sunday Morning Coming Down" long before I understood the lyrics. He was a man it was just hard NOT to admire, not only because of his music, but because of the honest, open way he faced life and frank, honest manner of dealing with people.

And I only recently came back to Johnny in the last several years, I think since around the time "American III: Solitary Man" came out. I'd moved around in music over the years, but country -- and Johnny Cash -- was always hovering around in the background. When I came back to country music in 1989, it was the first time I heard things like "Highwayman" and I realized I'd missed a little. Back in the early 80's, my cowboy Dad turned off country radio because it was getting "too pop." I was in high school and in a desperate attempt to fit in just a little bit I shook off my country leanings and turned to pop and rock. So from about 1981 to 1989, I never really listened to much country music. A little snuck in, here and there, when I worked at a 7-11 where one of the supervisors was a country boy, but the station always got changed to rock when the rest of the morning crew got in.

In 1989, I remember hearing Clint Black sing "Nobody's Home," and country music called me back. Because I listened to a reasonable, Buck-Owens-owned station, KNIX, I didn't realize what was happening in country music as the 90's wanned. Then KNIX was added to the "Clear Channel Family" and, well, people who listen to mainstream radio of any genre know what happened then. I turned off KNIX for good after the careless way they treated Waylon Jennings' passing, and haven't bothered to see what crumbs they throw out for Johnny.

I had the honor of reviewing several of the reissues that came out last year, as well as his last album, "The Man Comes Around." (I hesitate to say "final," because with a body of work like Johnny's, I think they'll be able to give us "new" music for a while yet.) I think my words to describe him fall way short of accuracy, but I did the best I could. Here and here and here.

Rodney Crowell, Johnny ex-son-in-law (Rodney was married to Roseanne) and brilliant songwriter/artist in his own right, had this to say: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my children's grandfather and my very dear friend. I loved big John with all my heart. The citizens of the world have lost one of their most enduring guiding lights. As a musical hero to millions, a trailblazing artist, humanitarian, spiritual leader, social commentator and most importantly, patriarch to one of the most varied and colorful extended families imaginable, Johnny Cash will, like Will Rogers, stand forever as a symbol of intelligence, creativity, compassion and common sense. I'm thinking Mt. Rushmore."

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
sillymagpie
Sep. 14th, 2003 03:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks to you, I got to know a lot about Johnny Cash in the last few months. He really reminded me of a country Woodie Guthrie. I was surprised at how many of his songs I knew from the old small town radio station that I listed to as a kid, when they didn't segregate country and rock.

I'm glad I got to know him a little better before he passed away. He was an incredible person.

--Maggie
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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