I have a very special announcement coming today to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, so this is this is the final installment of my five days of Johnny Cash blog in which I posted a significant song that contributed to my understanding, love and appreciation for Johnny Cash the artist, musician and man. By 9 am Hawaiian time today I have a special reveal in honor of the Man In Black.
When I look back on the musical career of Johnny Cash what is clear is that he accumulated a vast collection of recordings over an almost 50 year period. Between 1954 and 2003 he recorded and released approximately 96 albums of music and 153 singles. So choosing just five songs was a little daunting. But the overriding theme was looking at what songs held the most significance for me as a person and musician. This helped focus some of my choices.
Starting off was easy, “Folsom Prison Blues” is what got me going on my Johnny Cash adventure in 6th grade, so that was obvious. The next song again was simple enough for me because “Hurt” is what I heard as a twenty something when I needed a fresh musical start and was a little confused about my direction. “Walk the Line” had to be included because that was the first Johnny Cash song I covered in a live performance that people responded to. And then it wouldn’t be a Cash discussion without mentioning his gospel influence and his love for gospel music, which resonated with me on a spiritual level as I set out on my own spiritual journey, so I had to choose “Diamonds In the Rough” with special bonus song “The Man Comes Around”.
So what song to round it all out? Very hard indeed, I mean “The Man In Black” is important because it expresses his identity as a person and explains the reasoning behind one of his signature fashion choices. “A Boy Named Sue” is good because it shows his humorous side and his love for story telling. What about “Rose of My Heart” one of his less known numbers that is one of the most poignant ballads ever written, not by Cash, but covered with such conviction and depth. How about “Unchained” another song he didn’t write, but a gem of a tune he unearthed and gave new life through his always powerful interpretation. Same for “Bird On a Wire” and “Delia’s Gone” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and “One”.
Not to mention some of his other early hits, “Big River”, “Jackson”, “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”, “Cocaine Blues”, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” or “Cry, Cry, Cry”. Then some of his finest covers of country classics like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down”.
Well as you can see there are a few I’ve been touched by.
But when I really looked at it, it was as a song from “Out Among the Stars” that really ended up being one of the most powerfully influential on my life. A song from an album that actually just finally saw the light of day last year though it was originally recorded in two sessions in 1981 and 1984. A year ago I was in a special place. Having finally celebrated an important year of growth I was able to finally hear and understand the words in this song. It expressed ideas and concepts I didn’t understand before. Take a listen:
“I came to believe in a power much higher than I I came to believe that I needed help to get by. In child like faith I gave in and gave him a try I came to believe in a power much higher than I”
Powerful words indeed and I feel no elaboration is necessary as they speak for themselves.
So stay tuned for a special announcement later today. I owe so much to Johnny Cash that I thought it fitting to do one thing, write him a tribute song. This song is currently available on my album “Paniolo Music” which you can purchase on iTunes or CD Baby and by 9 am Hawaiian time I will be releasing a special You Tube exclusive on my channel to accompany this song.