The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 28, 2012

America and Johnny Cash

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 — America is one of the greatest countries in the world. Why? We are a nation comprised of numerous cultures, traditions and societies. We are the “melting pot,” so to speak; a country of diversity, we take pride in our differences and similarities, using both to create a splendidly unique civilization and strengthen our standing as a whole on this planet.

That being said, I think one of my favorite examples of the plethora of diversity in these United States lies with the late, great Johnny Cash.

This Tennessee native embodies the idea of “American” in a number of ways. As a musician, Cash spanned the various genres, not allowing himself to be limited by a certain musical style; most would call him country, but he’s played rock’n’roll, rockabilly, bluegrass, gospel, blues, folk and even techno, he covered a Nine Inch Nails’ song. He performed for a variety of audiences from convicted felons in prison to Richard Nixon in the White House.

As an icon, Cash broke the mold for a “superstar.” He was one of the original bad boys. Playing for prisoners, recreationally abusing drugs and alcohol, wearing black at a time before it was popular as everyday attire and actively pursuing a married woman whilst still being married himself, Cash defied what was thought of to be a typical icon. Through his life, he showed people that there are two sides to humanity, a light and dark side, and that these two sides often coincide.

Not only was he a singer, song-writer and performer, but the man was also an actor and author, writing many autobiographies.

Cash didn’t let his tastes lie in one particular area, but span across a wide range of styles, categories and philosophies. My favorite example of the diversity in Cash’s life is the song “Highway Man,” and that is probably because this is my favorite song by Cash.

The major theme of the song is reincarnation. This idea originated in India well over 5,000 years ago, and here it is in a Johnny Cash song. According to Indian religious belief, reincarnation is the idea that human spirits are re-embodied after a person dies; this re-embodiment can happen at any time throughout the ages and can land a spirit in another human body, an animal or an inanimate object.

The lyrics in the song reflect this idea of reincarnation. “I was a highway man...” the song begins. Next, Cash relates that “I was a sailor...” Then, “I was a dam builder, across the river deep and wide.” Also, “I'll fly a starship, across the universe divide.” The song ends with, “Or perhaps I may simply be a single drop of rain, but I will remain, and I'll be back again and again...” The idea is that his spirit has lived through many lives, suffered many deaths, but it will remain and carry on, in one form or another.

I find it amazing that Cash, a renowned Christian, found the idea of reincarnation so appealing that he decided to write a song about it. While the idea of reincarnation is Indian, Cash has taken it, internalized it and made it reflect the culture of America throughout the years.

From singing about highway robbery to flying across the universe, Cash has greatly contributed to the idea of American diversity through his works and life. Thanks Johnny, rest in peace.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 11, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content