Johnny Cash is a legend. That photo of him flipping the bird at San Quentin State Prison in 1969 has to be the greatest spontaneous photograph of a musician in history. There’s also his music.
I don’t know if this still happens, but when my peer group was busy getting married, one of the most anticipated moments of the reception was the playing of “Ring of Fire”. The dance floor would explode with excitement as we all gathered into joyous circles of friends to sing and do this weird, interpretative dance thing that only white people could possibly have created. It was often the highlight of the party portion of the dance.
There’s also “I Walk The Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues”. And one never forgets “A Boy Named Sue” especially if sung by The Captain and The Elmo around a New Year’s Eve inferno of a bonfire. All are classics and classic Cash. But the song I prefer is one I first heard after I was gifted a compilation of Johnny’s greatest hits. It too is a hit song though I’d never heard it prior to getting that CD and it’s one that I loved from the minute I first heard it. It’s about a man and his car and though I may not be a grease monkey nor even a blue collar worker, I felt a connection with the light-hearted but oddly inspiring tale in this song.
It’s kind of funny to think there was a time when owning a Cadillac was the epitome of success in North America. Time marches onward and tastes change. I’d never buy a Cadillac but there’s a part of me that yearns for a nostalgic, imaginary time when I would have strode to do so. If it had looked like the one in the song, all the better.
Let’s kick off the weekend with the man in black. This is “One Piece at a Time” by Johnny Cash, released as a single in 1976.
Official Live Version: