The Man In Black

By Allison L. Johnson
Blog Content Contributor

A true American legend was born 85 years ago today. Johnny Cash was and still is an influential artist to many people. Admirable for many things, there’s plenty of elements that distinguish Johnny Cash from other artists during his time. One is his deep, baritone voice. Cash would start a show introducing himself to the audience saying “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Just that one line is known around the world.

Johnny Cash’s music ranges from country, gospel, and rock and roll. He is in all three Hall of Fames, including The Nashville Songwriters and Memphis Music Hall of Fames. Being successful in more than one genre of music isn’t an easy thing for an artist to do. Cash’s sincere lyrics contribute to his success. It wasn’t a secret that Cash went through some hardships. He often told stories in his music that reflected the bad times. Songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Cocaine Blues” have similar themes that represent his rebellious side. A notable quote from Cash on the subject is, “Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one, Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.”

Johnny Cash originally started recording Christian music, such as “My Mother’s Hymn Book”, a gospel album. Johnny Cash once said, “Being a Christian isn’t for sissies. It takes a real man to live for God- a lot more man than to live for the Devil.” Out of all the things I love about Johnny, him being an unashamed Christian is my favorite.

There is something that comes close to my favorite thing about him though. There was no one that Cash loved more than his wife, June Carter. If you listen to their duets like “It Ain’t Me, Babe” or “Jackson” and really pay attention to the lyrics, you wouldn’t think the two were hopeless romantics in love with each other. If you ever get the chance though, listen to his song “Rose of my Heart” and try not to cry. Johnny was so in love and smitten by June.

Also if you get the chance, read this love letter he wrote to June on her 65th birthday. When Cash was asked what his definition of paradise was, he replied, “This morning, with her, having coffee.” If you like these quotes, you will love his music.

walk-the-line
Johnny Cash was known for wearing black. In a scene in Walk the Line, Vivian tells him “You look like “You’re going to a funeral.” Cash replies, “Maybe I am.” Photo by Allison Johnson.

Today, take some time to listen to his music. Watch Walk the Line while you’re at it too. It is a wonderful movie about his life.

I’m a huge fan of him because I loved everything he said and sang about when speaking on music, faith, and love.  Johnny Cash always knew what to say. I’ll leave you with one final quote from him: “If you aren’t gonna say exactly how and what you feel, you might as well not say anything at all.”

Featured illustration by Emily Castillo.

hannahwist

ktsw web content editor & music journalist. finding magic every day.

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