Why do I love Johnny Cash? That’s almost like asking, why am I Italian? The roots run deeper than I will ever know but I suppose I can scratch the surface. I reference both the man and his lyrics in my words constantly, most recently in my last post; Take 143 and before that I wrote a piece about his overall impression on my life called J.R. there’s simply no one quite like him out there, and I don’t think there ever will be.
Essentially, I am writing a book about Johnny Cash. A book about music and how sometimes it’s the only life raft we have the energy to cling to in a sea of anxiety. A book about sins, loving the right someone in the wrong way. A book about trashing the body with addictions to booze, sex, and pills. A book about finding God, knowing salvation and realizing the music legend was dead on when he said, being a Christian is not for sissies.-J.R., Genevieve Rose
It’s not just his music or him as a person nor is it his sins or even his virtues, my admiration for Cash comes from the whole picture. I understand not everyone likes his music but whether or not you enjoy the rockabilly style, he undoubtedly sang his way into history. Even if you wouldn’t listen to his albums on an endless loop like me, what he did for the music industry and the way he evolved as a man is worthy of respect. For example, I don’t like The Beatles but I respect their accomplishments. Hopefully that last line didn’t lose too many readers. If not great, I have much more to say. Today Johnny Cash would’ve been 85. He died September 12th, 2003 from complications of diabetes. He was 72. The love of his life June Carter Cash died just a few months before during heart surgery. They say you can actually die from a broken heart. It’s just a theory, but I believe a broken heart may have been what really took him out. Johnny loved his wife relentlessly. Johnny and June were the love affair of the century. His love for her was infused throughout his life and is still palpable through his lyrics. Particularly in tracks June helped him write like Ring of Fire and I Walk The Line. One could even say he loved her the way the Bible says to;”husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.” Which is fitting considering it was after they got together that Cash became devout in his Christian faith, a running theme throughout the majority of his songs like my personal favorite; I Was There When It Happened and Spiritual. He even released a couple gospel albums, something he would’ve done much earlier however, Sun Records didn’t want him to but later on when he switched to Columbia Records he was free to sing the songs of his soul. I’m not one to seek out gospel tracks, let alone hymns but if they’re sung by that baritone that’s steady like a train and sharp like a razor, you better believe I’m gonna be worshipping just like he did.
His faith is something I deeply admire about him. He and I share a deep love for Christ. However, Cash didn’t start out that way and neither did I. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; he was a real good sinner before he realized he was meant to be a saint. I think it’s amazing that the world got to know the worst of him before they knew him at his best. He was famous through his darkness and he’s now infamous in his light. They saw the drunk, reckless, junkie Johnny and then they met the man who knew he could only stand tall if at first he would kneel at the cross. His no bull way of talking didn’t waver in the slightest when Johnny Cash received the gift of Ephesians 2:8-10. He sang what he believed, as always, and Christian or not I have mad respect for those who confidently stand on the foundation of what their faith is in. That takes bravery. The confidence in Christ Johnny Cash had is seldom seen these days, it inspires me to the stay sharp shooter that I am.
Why do I love Johnny Cash? I love where he came from, I love who he became. I relate to his sins and I rejoice over his virtues. I love the way he loved his woman although, I do wonder what happened to the love he had for Vivian his first wife, but I plan on finding that answer in the book she wrote called I Walked The Line. I love that he turned his mess into a message and as famous as he was, he was never untouchable. He never climbed up on a pedestal. With more than one hundred hot singles to his name he absolutely could’ve and no one would’ve said a thing about it. Celebrities these days allow themselves to be worshipped but not him. Johnny Cash knew who was the only one worthy of being worshipped. He knew there is a God and he was positive that it was not him. For those who aren’t aware, his song God’s Gonna Cut You Down will help with a healthy dose of humility. If Johnny Cash was anymore down to earth he would’ve been buried under it. Despite us being more than two generations apart he knew pain in a way that I’d relate to even if I refused to. He was man of truth and that’s the kind of woman I strive to be. He had a heart for the broken and beaten down which is exactly why he wore black. I wish I could say we have that in common too, but I just wear black because I look good in it. He was a man of God and country and songs like Ragged Old Flag will make you proud to be an American.
If Johnny Cash was anymore down to earth he would’ve been buried under it. – Genevieve Rose
A kindred spirit can be defined as two spirits who remind each other on an unconscious level of home upon running into each other. I’ve never met the man himself but I’d like to believe someday I will and as far as kindred spirits, I’d say that’s a good way to describe what we are. I would say wish you were here but if I had to choose I’d say I was wish I was right where you are. Birthdays must be better in Heaven, wish I was there. From J.R. to J.R. happy birthday.