Mudcat Café message #1021442 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62870   Message #1021442
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
18-Sep-03 - 10:59 AM
Thread Name: Obit: Johnny Cash passes (1932-2003)
Subject: RE: Obit: Johnny Cash passes
Nice story in the Guardian:


Alone with the Man in Black

I went to do an interview with Johnny Cash - he so moved me that I gave up my job and became a novelist

Louisa Young
Wednesday September 17, 2003

So there I was, sitting in Johnny Cash's front room in Hendersonville, Tennessee, about 10 or 12 years ago. He'd been with journalists most of the day and I was the last. A couple, I knew from chatting to them, were hacks with less than no interest in country music. I was worse - I was a fan.

He's looking a little tired, and a little fed up, in a polite way. The room is dim, lots of furniture, glass-fronted cabinets full of June's crystal and cut-glass collection.

"So," I say, "Are you still the Man in Black? Can you tell me why?"

He goes into the stock answer: quoting the song lyrics, about wearing black for the poor and the beaten down. But I know all that - I'm wondering if that's still how he feels, 30 years later. "I mean, are you still doing it?" I ask. "For the same reasons?"

"Now?" he says gently. There's a wry look in his eye. "Now more than ever... "

We get to talking about the evils of the world. I mention a song he recorded: Here Comes That Rainbow Again, by Kris Kristofferson. It's a small drama. A pair of Okie kids, a waitress and some truckers are in a roadside cafe. The kids ask: how much are the candies? "How much have you got?" the waitress replies. "We've only a penny between us". "Them's two for a penny," she lies.

A trucker notices. "Them candies ain't two for a penny," he says, and "So what's it to you?' she replied. Then when the truckers leave "She called 'Hey, you left too much money!' 'So what's it to you?' they replied."

It sounds hokey - but it's not, not the way Cash sang it, and certainly not in its first incarnation - the song is based on an intensely touching scene from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

I mention this.

"You know that book?" he says, his face lighting up.

"I love that book," I say. "And you know that book!" Why am I surprised that Johnny Cash has read Steinbeck?

"Know that book?" he says. "I was that book." He smiles at me. It's kind of like being smiled at by Monument Valley, or the Hoover Dam. He pronounces it "Grapesawrath", like Rose of Sharon is pronounced Rosasharn.

the rest is at the link above