Although Johnny Cash is basically the pride and joy of country music, his music transcends genres. I have talked to many people who can't stand country music (it hurts, I know) but love Johnny Cash. When I asked them why this is, they replied "Well, he's not really country... he's…. well, he's just Johnny Cash". Exactly. There is a quality in Johnny Cash's music that no one can quite place, yet everyone can feel. Maybe we just aren't used to someone bearing his heart so honestly in his songs while articulating exactly what each of us feels but maybe don't have the courage to say out loud. His music not only transcends music boundaries, but generational ones as well. I imagine his fan base is one of the most diverse in all of music: He has older fans who were lucky enough to see and listen to him at the start of his career in the '50s while also having a substantial amount of younger fans whose parents may not have even been alive in the 1950's.
I would like to dedicate this blog to one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs and one of my favorite musical performances of all time. Here Johnny is at a college campus and is performing his famous song, "Man in Black", for the very first time. If you listen to lyrics, you'll agree that they're still extremely relevant today but take a moment to think about this song in context. He is performing it (on national television, by the way) in 1971, following a decade of social unrest, change, and protest in America. JFK assassination. Cold War. Martin Luther King Assassination. Vietnam War.
My favorite part of this video is to watch the faces of the college students as the song progresses. They are not talking amongst themselves or screaming obnoxiously over Johnny's voice. They are right there with him, hanging onto every word. And they get it. This video, right here, this is why Johnny Cash is considered one of the greatest artists of all time. This is why convicts, Christians, minorities, old, and young are all proud to be fans of the man in black.
Hopefully the video will show up, but if it doesn't follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t51MHUENlAQ