Saturday, March 11, 2017

Revising the Narrative

One of the first songs I noticed, as a child, was "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. I've pretty much always thought of him as a salt-of-the-earth populist musician. But that hardly jibes with the information that he was a voracious reader of, among other things, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. We learn this from his son John Carter Cash writing in The Spectator:
He was a scholar, learned in ancient texts, including those of Flavius Josephus and unquestionably of the Bible. He was an ordained minister and could easily hold his own with any theologian. His books on ancient history, such as Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, were annotated, read, reread, and worn, his very soul deeply ingrained into their threadbare pages. I still have some of these books. When I hold them, when I touch the pages, I can sense my father in some ways even more profoundly than in his music.
The whole piece is worth reading.

Our envoi has to be:

What I never noticed before was the mariachi influence in the brass.


Will Wilkin said...

Johnny Cash will always be one of my very favorite artists. I collect his recordings. I never detected his readings in Roman history, since his music was always steeped in the American west and in old-style rural christianity. One of his last albums was "My Mother's Hymnal," which is a masterpiece in traditional American gospel music. A little like Jesus himself, would never cast the first stone. His prison concerts showed a mercy and humanity sorely needed now.

Bryan Townsend said...

Whole-heartedly agree.

Marc Puckett said...

Someone in the YT comments points out that the trumpets-doing-mariachi aren't in the Carters' original version of the song.

JBB said...

I remember reading somewhere that Cash hated the trumpets but was overruled by his producer. I wish I could cite a source.

Bryan Townsend said...

They don't sound quite like they belong there, do they?