"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

A Highwayman Hits the Road

Uncategorized — d-ashes on September 12, 2003 at 2:34 pm

It’s hard to pay homage to someone you did not know personally. I’ve been mulling
what to say about Johnny Cash upon the event of his death. Newspapers, both online
and in print have done plenty of justice to the man’s career. I have no personal
reflections to fall back on that directly relate to Mr. Cash. I never met him
and only saw him play once, a short set during JubileeJam in Jackson, MS.

Jason, also a fan, who has made sure to play Johnny’s CD’s all day long in
the Fiction Room at the bookstore (including the Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson
VH1 Storytellers CD, which I had yet to hear and is very good) has a more personal
level to remember him by. Upon hearing of Johnny Cash’s death this morning he
picked up his guitar and played a couple of Johnny’s songs; about as close a
communion as one can achieve with a musician, I think. I can’t play music worth
a damn so that avenue isn’t open to me.

So what am I left with (and after all this, how can this post be more about
Johnny Cash than my inability to eulogize him)? Johnny Cash was one of the last
of the hard men, having found a niche that allowed him to exist and create outside
of what mainstream music considered nice and normal, yet he was still endeared
to those that weren’t afforded that luxury. Growing up poor in Depression-era
Arkansas he earned the right to sing about the hard, rabble-rousing life without
it seeming a record-selling gimmick. He was indeed, bigger than life. A legend,
and having had both the man and the legend alive at the same time it is hard
to imagine him gone until I realized that it is only the man that is gone,
and that the legend now is free to grow, eclipsing even the man himself.

And so I bid adieu to Mr. Johnny Cash. He was a great story-teller and a great
singer and song-writer. I have many memories of his music being the soundtrack
to late afternoon rides in rural Lincoln County. Though the man is gone it is
nice to know that the only way I ever really knew him, through his music, is
only a play button away.


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