Friday, February 26, 2010

Johnny Cash's Birthday

Johnny Cash would have been 78 today--an amusing number to me because I first heard his recordings via 78 rpm records my father brought home from a saloon in the High Sierra. A carpenter and stone mason by day, my father took a second job tending bar, and when it was time to replace records in the jukebox, he brought the discards home--including the 78's of "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ballad of a Teenage Queen." Young as I was, I sensed immediately the uniqueness of Cash's voice, style, and persona. I still can't think of another artist who occupies a niche between African American delta music, Appalachian folk music, electrified country music of the 1950s, and Memphis rockabilly so originally and so forcefully; there was also more than a hint of reggae and ska in what he produced sometimes (he owned a house in Jamaica). I also think he had a great ear and eye for the poetry of popular lyrics, and he seemed unamused by lyrics from the ultra-commercial pop and Nashville machines. He did, however, like to sell records himself; no doubt about that. A link to "his" site:

Johnny Cash
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