Johnny Cash died this morning: “Country singer Johnny Cash dies at 71.” Originally signed to the Sun label by Sam Phillips in the ’50s, he had an incredibly long and productive career as one of the giants of American popular music.
He was a wonderful songwriter and performer. Among the fine songs he wrote and memorably performed are “Big River,” “Give My Love to Rose,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” “I Walk the Line,” and “I Still Miss Someone.” In “Folsom Prison Blues” he wrote the most chilling line in country music: “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”
Songs written by others that he turned into hits include “Ring of Fire” and “A Boy Named Sue.” He was an open-hearted artist who became an early advocate and performer of songs by gifted songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, and Kris Kristofferson. RIP.
HINDROCKET adds: Even though he had been in poor health for some time, I was shocked to learn (via the Trunk’s post) of Cash’s death. Words like “superstar” and “legend” are tossed around so freely nowadays that it is hard to convey the stature of a true giant like Cash to those not familiar with his work. He both preceded and transcended the split between country music and rock and roll, so that his early hits like “Ring of Fire,” and even later songs like “Folsom Prison Blues,” were huge hits not only on the country charts or on country stations, but across the popular music spectrum. For me, growing up, Elvis was just a curiosity. Johnny Cash was an icon. And he continued performing and creating good music right up to the end. So when I get home tonight I’ll raise a glass in Cash’s honor and listen to “I Still Miss Someone,” a lovely, lilting tune that contrasts poignantly with Cash’s deep voice and rough persona, and which I never realized, until now, that he also wrote. We’ll all miss the Man in Black.
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