Friday, 17 May 2013
THE MAN IN BLACK
To my absolute delight I ran into a little second hand store and found a precious treasure a couple of days back. A ‘Johnny Cash The Collection’ box which contains 3 original album classics, booklets included! The best part was finding that it was a ‘live’ collection. A truly remarkable experience is listening to the CD’s and hearing him share before each and every song and engaging with his audience. In particular, the one CD was recorded at the prison where he performed for inmates. When listening to it, I could get a small glimpse into his life. He had passion, personality, a sense of humor and most of all compassion for his fellow inmates. Living myself into the moment, just for a while, I found myself giggling aloud one minute, and the next shedding a couple of tears.
Here is a man who understands life, hardships, struggles, darkness, light, and most importantly music. I would like to share just a few clips from his life… A man who has walked a journey many others couldn’t ever walk, let alone comprehend. Much to my delight I read that two of the CD’s from my precious collection are known to be on the critic’s list of defining albums of the 60’s.
Quote : “I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.
I wear the black for those who never read”
Many of his songs are written about financial and personal struggles as a family. He was known to wear black on behalf of the poor and hungry. He battled drug addiction, and had been in, and out of jail. He received a pardon by then governor Ronald Reagan for helping the bleeding-heart underdog. Johnny Cash had experienced many hardships in his life including losing his younger brother.
In 1968, he had a spiritual experience in a cave and he tried to commit suicide while under the heavy influence of drugs. He descended deeper into the cave, trying to lose himself and “just die”, when he passed out on the floor. He was exhausted and felt like he was at his end, when he experienced God’s presence in his heart and managed to get out of the cave, even though he was incredibly weak.
June, Maybelle,, and Ezra Carter moved into Cash’s mansion for a month to help him conquer his addiction. Johnny proposed onstage to June at a concert in 1968. They married a week later, June had agreed to marry Cash if he cleaned up. He rediscovered his faith after that.
I did a little research and found that when he performed ‘Amazing Grace’ for inmates, at Huntsville State Prison in 1957, he did so with compassion for them; he understood the emotional struggles they were facing…he too had been there. They shared personally what this song meant to them in an interview by Bill Moyers. He shared movingly, that his family would sing it together while working in the cotton fields. He had a career that nearly lasted 50 years. Johnny proved to be one of the most productive recording artists in his time. He was known to provide equipment everywhere he went. Often to prisons in order to get the required sound needed for tapes. Such a rare and unique man Johnny Cash was!