Saturday, September 18, 2010

Johnny Cash. Good.

Imagine a rock-country hybrid artist choosing to perform in front of hundreds of men doing hard time in a notorious prison -- say, San Quentin. Imagine this performer eschewing crowd-pleasing fare (e.g., the cops are crooked, the justice system is a sham, women aren't worth the trouble -- you have to admit this theme would go over well in a maximum-security prison) in favor of a song on the theme of redemption, specifically, redemption from a life of violence.

You've just imagined Johnny Cash, circa 1969:



If anything in the realm of being an artist requires courage -- political courage, physical courage -- this is it. They don't make country-rock hybrid stars like they used to; or maybe they do, and I just don't know it. I'd love to be proven wrong in my half-assed sweeping generalizations (all of them, not just this one).

6 comments:

apophaticattic said...

"They don't make country-rock hybrid stars like they used to"

Corb Lund?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yXzZTYjUl0

Dale said...

AA - That's definitely very catchy! Thanks for the link.

Sheldon said...

I think there is an extraordinary message in the Johnny Cash's prison concerts. Who does anything like that today? I think Cash knew that the prison population was the product of an unjust society. Thus he refused to disregard them as human beings as is such a popular sentiment today.

Dale said...

Sheldon - Johnny Cash was a Christian, and it strikes me that these prison concerts -- not to mention what he sang about -- render him an actual specimen of a Christian. He deigned to address the poor, downtrodden, and even the scorned.

No wonder he had a hard life. It's got to be difficult to actually live that way, which goes some distance to explaining why there are few people who actually play the part rather than just ape the lines.

Dale said...

I don't mean to say he was a perfect Christian, or that it would even be a good thing to be one ...

Anonymous said...

One of Johnny's greatest qualities to me was his honest sincerity.