The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash died a while ago. I'm not sure when. I grew up pretty much
with him. I listened to his music on the radio and from records. I
remember he wore black, sang in prisons, said he'd never change the color
of his clothes until the prisoners were freed. I think that was what he
said. He had that deeper sound, not that high lonesome sound, but that
edgy sound, at the lip of a cave or abandoned shack somewhere in the
desert. At least that's how I read it.

Three hundred years ago there was a style called country music I think.
There was a man called Johnny Cash. The records are pretty clear on that.
He was a singer or songwriter or played a wooden instrument called a
guitar. I read something about that. There's not much information left
about anything. He's probably one of a million players back then. There
were more people back then. I'm not sure of anything else about him. He
lived in the 1900s I think. Things seemed a lot simpler then but maybe
everyone says that all the time. I haven't a clue about the music. I think
he played the instrument himself but I'm not sure.

My children won't remember Cash. He'll be on some disks around the house,
that's all. Like everyone else in this culture, he'll recede quickly. He's
had his day at the prison. Maybe sometime in twenty years or so he'll be
rediscovered but for who? At that point we'll have moved on so far, and
with population increase, global warming, it will be a miracle if anything
at all is left. When we go, with our memories, Cash goes with us. It's as
simple as that.

We don't know anything at all about that period. It seems an entirely
different world. Most of the artifacts are pretty much decomposed,
charred, whatever. It must have been something, though. The whole planet
took on a face-lift.

Johnny Cash is the greatest. I'll follow him from concert to concert, I've
got a dozen autographs. He's so sexy and committed, I can't believe how
lucky I am. Years from now they'll still be singing his songs. Country
music wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for him and his Carter
Family wife. I wish I was her!

It's all gone, all gone. It never meant anything. For a moment folks
enjoyed it. They expected more though, I'm not sure what. That things
wouldn't change so fast, that the world would hold back a little. That
Johnny would hold it back. And the prisons are still full, fuller than
ever. Those prisoners, they're the ones should be in charge, and the ones
out there, the free ones, lock them up and throw away the key.

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