May 16, 2002


Mean Eyed Cat, Kneeling Drunkard's Plea, and the Wayfaring Stranger (Dave Urbansk, Mars Hill Review)
Don't ever talk to Johnny Cash about "slowing down." Don't ever talk to him about retirement. About disease. About old age. About death. Cash, who is nearing seven decades on earth, has stared down enough physical, psychological, spiritual, social, and musical obstacles to send a host of humans to their knees. But the Man in Black just keeps coming back. It's a pattern that's repeated itself countless times over his nearly half century-long recording career, during which he shook up the country music industry, influenced countless younger musicians from a host of genres, and did enough living to last several lifetimes.

So there's no reason to assume Cash won't rise off the mat the next time he gets knocked down. After all, he's ravaged his body with drugs and cleaned up. He's died on the operating table and come back to life. He was diagnosed three years ago with a terminal nervous-system disorder, Shy-Drager Syndrome, and has since fought off the symptoms with such verve that doctors are wondering if he was misdiagnosed. He and his family were held hostage at gunpoint in their own home and survived.

Most visibly, though, Cash has tethered himself to the roller coaster seat of popular music, doing it his way (much to self-righteous chagrin of the country music empire), enduring several falls to near obscurity--only to make comeback after comeback. Cash's most recent resurgence stems from his charmed partnership with eccentric rap pioneer Rick Rubin, who produced three distinguished albums for Cash over the last six years. This arrangement has yielded Cash a brand new (and decidedly Gen-X) audience--and the adoration of critics far and wide.

At a time when folks like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, etc. are just humiliating themselves, dragging around the world making a godawful racket, Johnny Cash just keeps cranking out quality music. This profile should be enough to get you to give him a listen, and, if you've not heard it, we recommend his great American III: Solitary Man Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2002 10:43 AM
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