Much as I like Bishi, how I did not make Johnny Cash the chosen artist of my inaugural Music Monday, I'll never know. My love for Johnny Cash is fairly recent; until five or six years ago my knowledge of his music was scant. I was steadfast in my hatred of country music, and then, something changed.
Not only do I adore him as a musician, but he was a true rock and roll badass. Witness:
Johnny Cash, San Quentin
If you're resistant to this era of Johnny Cash (silly buggers), how about Hurt?:
If this song and video doesn't break your heart into a million tiny pieces, you're lacking a soul. It's originally a NIN song, which is interesting since Trent Reznor wrote it about heroin addiction, yet as sung by Cash it becomes a lamentation on aging, watching your life ebb away as you sit by unable to stop the passing of time.
My grandpa died right after the song and video were released, and the first time I watched it I cried for an hour. I can't watch it now without tearing up, seeing my grandpa's experience reflected in the voice of Johnny Cash. A former WWII soldier, he hated how age rendered him physically useless. In his eyes, he was 30 one day, and 89 the next. He went from 13 hour days spent working on railroads to not being able to climb a small stepladder to pick an orange from the tree in his backyard, all within the blink of an eye.
So thank you Johnny Cash - for being one of the first true embodiments of rock & roll, and giving me the opportunity to memorialise my grandpa with a song whose words so resonated with you as well.
"If I could start again/A million miles away/I would keep myself/I would find a way"