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Johnny joins June Carter Cash in Jackson

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It was time for Johnny Cash to die. You hate to give him up, but it was clearly his proper time. He was old and sick. His body was worn out. His wife and savior went on ahead of him in May. They got married in a fever, and now he’s gone off to join her in Jackson. This picture makes a beautiful thought for the couple now together forever.

Cash recorded many great songs of despair and sadness, and dark nights of the soul, but it’s not the time for those. His struggles and pain are through. I find myself today blasting “Jackson” in celebration of Johnny and June’s reunion.

On the other hand, this is my favorite picture of Johnny:

It’s not just the picture here that’s so cool, though it’s certainly a classic. It’s that Johnny absolutely had this placed as an ad in Billboard, literally giving the industry the finger for their lack of support for what turned out to be a Grammy winning album. Yeah, that’s our guy.

What to say about his legacy? It’s been sliced and diced and described beautifully many times. Rolling Stone has a particularly nice essay on the occasion of his passing, and my fellow Blogcritics have lots of good stuff, including a message from Kris Kristofferson.

His deep voice had a unique primal power, like the voice of God, or God’s messenger anyway. He would never have been accused of self-righteousness, but he had this incredible implicit moral authority. No one in the history of recorded music could put across a tone of rebuke like Johnny. I’m thinking of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” and “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry” in particular. “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry” may be my favorite recording of Cash. He packed it with great intense sad stoicism, comedy and moral judgment. Incredible.

You hate to give up such a legend. It’s especially unfortunate for us in that he’s done some of his best work over the last 10 years in the American Recordings albums. We could have used another half dozen albums like them. I’d probably pick the first one of these as his greatest album ever.

Really we can’t bitch, though. He left us a heller legacy, and even in fact a whole bunch of unreleased recordings with Rubin in the can, already scheduled for release as a box set.

With his passing, the whole revolutionary Sun Records crew has gone, all but one. Who would have thunk that Jerry Lee Lewis would be the last man standing?

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  • Frank Parks

    I first saw Johnny Cash at the age of nine at the Fabulous Forum in L.A. in 1969. The opening act was a joyous Statler Brothers. It is my first concert and forms an indelible memory.
    Johnny Cash – in his life and his music – epitomized all that is true about freedom and social responsibility.
    Whether his songs were about Prison, Vietnam, God, or building a car out of ‘borrowed’ parts from work, the Man was sincere – and sincerely the greatest figure in Country Music since Hank Williams.
    It is so prescient that his last album – The Man Comes Around – speaks so plainly of leaving this life and moving it on farther down the line. The final song on his final album is an old wartime spritual:
    “We’ll Meet Again”
    We’ll meet again,
    Don’t know where, don’t know when;
    But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day…
    I like to think that Johnny has met his June again.
    Sadly, the world will never meet anyone like Johnny again.

  • Ronald Douglas


  • A. D. Russell

    “While yet a Dream”

    Commanding one huge, yet gloomily-lit
    Branson, Missouri stage
    And brightly shining still for both young & a somewhat aged, but very devoted plus quite large,
    country-western audience

    Johnny with June [wearing glitzy-garb] infused my mind alongside another Upcoming lady-superstar
    I couldn’t fairly make out;
    As all three twanged and sang in unison – Spoonful, Swoonful-songs
    to deeply-southern beats.

    While accompanied by a
    earthy-demeanored banjo, harmonica, and guitar totting band
    of highwaymen; obviously,
    from somewhere south of that there much-storied Mason / Dixon line –
    played on well into the
    vividly-arrayed night.

    But the only other thing I can recall
    about misty-aura surrounding this splendid ball,
    whilst yet a dream Of gone-legends lived on behind Slumber’s grand-ole curtain, once magically-parted,
    were the words They sang
    will stay evermore crooned
    within my heart:

    “ I wan nah LIVE, in Ef fi gy … for-ev-errrr”…..

    & Though It keeps right on Playing over again, Not haunting, but staying just the same
    s even days go by
    Why I’d have never forgotten – anyway
    That man-in-black and his wife!

    A.D. Russell – after 5/03 and 09/03
    The night of 11/19/04

  • Carly

    i love john and june cash ever since i have seen walk the line i have just felt so interested in them !!!!!!!!!!!!!their love is forever