Mudcat Café message #1813720 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93966   Message #1813720
Posted By: katlaughing
19-Aug-06 - 09:00 AM
Thread Name: Johnny Cash: The Kitsch of Death!
Subject: RE: Johnny Cash: The Kitsch of Death!
If it's about Johnny, I think we can post the whole article, though I don't agree that his music was cornball nor pop:

Johnny Cash, CornballCan pop music be both great art and shameless kitsch?
By Jody Rosen
Updated Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006, at 10:58 AM ET

These days, it's hard to find anyone who isn't a Johnny Cash fan. Three years after his death, he's become one of those rare musicians held in near-universal esteem. Everyone knows he's great, and his music is touched with such timeless and ineffable cool that hipsters still love him despite his embrace by the unhip. Cash's posthumous career, needless to say, is going very well. A best-of CD landed in the Billboard Top 10 last year, and a new album, American V: A Hundred Highways, arrived on July 4 and promptly hit No. 1. It's the first Cash album to top the pop charts since Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968)—proof positive that as much as we esteem our "living legends," we prefer them recently dead and deified in Hollywood biopics.

The current wave of Cash-mania kicked into high gear with last year's Walk the Line, but the real force behind the Cash revival is Rick Rubin, the rock/hip-hop super-producer who oversaw the singer's last five studio albums. Together, they're dubbed the American Recordings series, and A Hundred Highways is the fifth volume. Rubin remembers a time when Cash had considerably less cachet. The producer saw his first Cash concert in the early 1990s—at an Orange County dinner theater. Cash had been dropped by Columbia Records, had made a string of lackluster albums for Mercury, and was contemplating an end to his recording career altogether. He'd been largely abandoned by country fans—his relationship with the Nashville establishment was always chilly—and the rock audience that had discovered him through Bob Dylan in the late '60s had likewise moved on.

Rubin's solution was simple; in fact, his solution was simplicity. On American Recordings (1994), Rubin stripped back the musical arrangements to a bare minimum, setting Cash's fathoms-deep baritone against stark acoustic guitar picking. Throw in a couple of surprising rock cover tunes, a video starring Kate Moss, and appearances at the Viper Room in L.A., and the rest was history—up shot the record sales and in rolled the Grammys.