Mudcat Café message #1724054 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90789   Message #1724054
Posted By: Don Firth
21-Apr-06 - 03:04 PM
Thread Name: Johnny Cash - How come an icon?
Subject: RE: Johnny Cash - How come an icon?
Okay, here's a comparison that will flummox a lot of people, but indulged me for a moment::   

I see unusual similarities between Johnny Cash and opera singer Maria Callas. Maria Callas did not have the greatest singing voice in the world. In fact, her voice sounded kind of "glassy" and, at times, a bit shrill. Not a particularly pleasant sound. But—she was a consummate actress, and although her recordings don't make the most pleasant of listening, she was marvelous to watch on stage. In comedy parts like the Rossini operas, she was funnier than hell, and in Tosca, when she stabs Scarpia, you want help her shove the dagger into him. Very intense. Live audiences loved her.

Johnny Cash was not a particularly versatile singer. He always sang in his lower register, which was warm and resonant, but limited the range of songs he could do. And among other things, a lot of the time his sense of pitch was a bit "iffy." His guitar work was simple and straight. Not a virtuoso by any means. But—he generally chose the songs he did wisely. And his accompaniments were simple and tasty, He could really put his emotions into a song in an intense, restrained sort of way that people could relate with. In addition, there was something very appealing about that somber, craggy face. Along with this, it was well known that he had spent a lot of time on drugs or hitting the bottle, and with the help of his wife, June, he manage to dig himself out of the pit, get sober, and stay sober. This has a lot of appeal. He was a flawed human being and he didn't try to cover it up. Lots of folks could and did identify with him.

Also, he appeared in a movie or two and on several television shows, not as himself (although, at least in an episode of "Columbo," he played gospel singer—spoiler alert! He was the murderer.). He was a pretty good actor.

Icon? If so, the status is well deserved.

Just my opinion.

Don Firth