Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hello, I'm NOT Johnny Cash !!!

Hello, I'm NOT Johnny Cash! Sorry, but there was only one of him, and, sadly, he is gone. The good news, however, is that his music is still very much alive, and, in fact, is still thriving some fifty-plus years after his first record was released on Sun Records in Memphis (1955, I believe).

I should admit that this particular 'Rant !!!' is somewhat ego-driven. To omit this disclaimer would be quite disingenuous on my part. I will bring you up to speed momentarily.

For those of you who do not know me personally, I am a song writer. I am also the world's oldest living rock & roll drummer (the rest surely must have passed on by now), although I haven't played the drums in many, many years. In fact, I don't even remember which end goes in my mouth (still a bad joke, but I digress).

I first heard Johnny Cash in 1956. He had a hit record entitled "I Walk the Line". It is still being played on radio stations around the world to this very day. It is, without question, a classic. Although I was playing drums in a rock band at the time, I actually (at the tender age of eighteen) stood at the microphone and sang "I Walk the Line". It was my first public vocal attempt, for better or worse, but it stirred something inside of me that has never gone away: my love for the music of one 'John R. Cash'.

My songwriting has been greatly influenced by his music through the years. There is a simplicity and an honesty that transcends into the lives of the common people (us'ns). His lyrics tell the story of everyday life in America. Nothing fancy, nothing phony, nothing slick or polished. Just pure Americana. I could go off on a tangent here and indict the current state of today's music industry and their complete lack of creativity and artistry, but I just did, didn't I?

As I promised, let me now go back to my ego disclaimer: This past Friday night I sang at a very neat place on the square in Murfreesboro, Tennessee called 'Liquid Smoke'. It is a place where friends gather to enjoy a good cigar and a 'cold one' of their choice. It seems I have been accused of sounding like Johnny Cash when I sing (close, but no cigar, unless you're at Liquid Smoke). I assembled some friends, along with two of my grandsons, to back me up musically, and we did a two hour set of nothing but Johnny Cash songs. The show was incredibly well received and more fun for me than an old person should be allowed to have.

Which brings me to the point of all this: There is no way for me to tell anyone how thrilled and how honored I was to emulate the 'Man in Black', and to share his music with others, if only for a short two hours. I did my best to 'do him proud', as they say in this part of the world.

Johnny Cash, as a songwriter, as a musician, and as a man, will live forever. He is a true American hero. A true American legend. His music is as fresh today as it was fifty years ago, and it will live in my heart forever. He was 'one of a kind'. Hey, sounds like a song to me!

No, I'm NOT Johnny Cash. Couldn't be if I wanted!

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