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A pensive Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash was an American Singer-songwriter, actor and author He's considered one of the most influential musicians in the 20th century.Although he is primarily remembered as a country icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rock and roll and rockabilly especially early in his career and blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, the fourth of seven children to Ray Cash (May 13, 1897, Kingsland, Arkansas December 23, 1985, Hendersonville, Tennessee) and Carrie Cloveree Rivers; March 13, 1904, Rison, Arkansas March 11, 1991, Hendersonville, Tennessee). Cash was named J. R. Cash because his parents could not think of a name. When Cash enlisted in the Air Force, they wouldn't let him use initials as his name, so he started to use the legal name John R. Cash. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he took Johnny Cash as his stage name.
In March 1935, when Cash was three years old, the family settled in Dyess, Arkansas. He started working in cotton fields at age five, singing along with his family while working. The family farm was flooded on at least two occasions, which later inspired him to write the song "Five Feet High and Rising". His family's economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs, especially those about other people facing similar difficulties.
Cash was very close to his older brother, Jack. In May 1944, Jack was pulled into a whirling head saw in the mill where he worked and was almost cut in two. He suffered for over a week before he died on May 20, 1944, at age 15. Cash often spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over this incident. According to Cash: The Autobiography, his father was away that morning, but he and his mother, and Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day, causing his mother to urge Jack to skip work and go fishing with his brother. Jack insisted on working, as the family needed the money. On his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of heaven and angels. Decades later, Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in heaven.
I've always loved Johnny Cash, since I was young. He actually wrote a song about my relative Ira Hayes, who helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima. I've always found him relatable in a lot of ways.
October 2nd, 2013
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