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MUSC 1010-506


Johnny Cash: The Man in Black

Johnny Cash was born February 26th, 1932 in
Kingsland Arkansas. The Cash family were Southern Baptist sharecroppers in a
poor farming community.( Editors) At age 12, he was writing
songs, singing and playing guitar. In his high school years, he started singing
at Arkansas radio station KLCN. Johnny always had an interest in music throughout
his whole life. Growing up Southern Baptist was probably the reason, but he
originally wanted to sing gospel music.(Rolling Stone)

When Johnny graduate high school, he aimed for Detroit, but
landed up at an automotive plant in Pontiac, Michigan until the Korean War
broke out, at which time he enlisted in the Air Force and served as a radio
operator.  During his time in the Air
Force, he bought his first guitar and expanded his skills on the guitar.( Editors)

After being discharged from the service, he married Vivian
Liberto and moved out to Memphis. There he worked as an appliance salesman
while also receiving training at a radio announces school. Johnny had for girls
with Vivian.(Rolling Stone)

He joined up with a couple of mechanics and formed “The
Tennessee Three” which Sam Phillips of Sun Studios didn’t like that title and suggested
“Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two” and they started recording a Blues/Country
mix with Sun Studios. Cash had wanted to record Gospel music, Phillips but
didn’t like that idea. They had several top hits with Sun Studios and were
quickly gaining popularity. “I Walk the Line” made Billboard No.1 and stayed
there for forty-three weeks.(

Shortly after that he was invited to play at the Grand Ole
Opry and was later running 200 shows a year. With his new-found popularity he
headed to California in 1958 and signed with Columbia Records. That is about
when things started to unravel. Running on the type of schedule he was must
have started to wear on him. He started using drugs and alcohol to try and keep
up. Between the addictions and his schedule, his marriage began to suffer
sending Vivian and him to divorce. This also started influencing his career. (

By 1967, Cash had met June Carter and had successfully
overcome his addictions and was headed back on track. June had become his new
singing partner and had got himself back in the spotlight and back to the top.
He even had “The Johnny Cash Show” on ABC from1969-1971. When the show was
discontinued, he still hosted specials for quite a few years.(

During his career, Johnny has sung and played with many
other greats including; Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
He also received many awards, from Album of the Year – 1968, to MTV Best
Cinematography – 2003 for the “Hurt” music video.(

“One piece at a time” is one of my favorite songs. It tells
a story of working on a Cadillac assembly line in Detroit and wanting a
Cadillac of his own. Since Cadillacs are known for being expensive, he takes a
spare part here and there thinking they won’t be missed. He builds his own
Cadillac with two headlights on one side and one headlight on the other and
only one tail fin. This is because all the parts are from different years.
Being kind of a “Motorhead” myself, I really get a kick out of this song.(Dauphin)

“Man in Black” is considered #6 hit from Johnny Cash on a
Billboard list of his songs. It’s not a cheerful song, in fact it is more of an
explanation for why he almost always wore black. In his past, he had a rough
fight with his own demons, and I think this was his way of reminding people
that life isn’t always perfect. There will always be poor, there will always be
sick and elderly, there will always be somebody going through a rough patch of
their own. This song is the one that give him the title, “The Man in Black”.(Dauphin)

“I Walk the Line” was #7 on the list of his top hits. This
one was first released when he was still married to his first wife, Vivian.
Musicians always have groupies.  This was
probably his way of telling his wife and others his intentions of staying
faithful to her even when he was on the road.(Dauphin)

His most popular song, and #1 on the Billboard list is “Ring
of Fire”. June Carter and Merle Kilgore wrote this song. It was a kind of love
song. It talks about love and the burning inside from falling in love. They
weren’t married to each other when June wrote it, but she may have already been
in love with him when at the time.(Dauphin)

Johnny Cash had a huge influence on both the Country and the
Rock and Roll scene. He was a mostly self-taught musician and singer that was
an amazing success story, and yet a humble person at the same time. He chased
his dreams, fought some tough fights and in the end, came out on top.



Works Cited Editors. “Johnny Cash.” Biography.Com,
27 Apr. 2017,

Chuck. “Johnny Cash’s 15 Best Songs: Critic’s Picks.” Billboard, 26 June
“Johnny Cash Biography Part 1.” Johnnycash.Com, Accessed 11 Dec. 2017.

Stone. “Johnny Cash Biography.” Rolling Stone, Accessed 11
Dec. 2017.


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