Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Hour-long doco chronicling the man in black's singing career.

As someone who's played a bit of Cash on the radio, I found this a welcome opportunity to gen-up on an icon whose name is maybe 50% of what I actually know about him.

What comes across loud and clear from the library of brief clips on show is, not unexpectedly, the man's voice. After what I said yesterday about Elvis not knowing how to sing a song badly, I find myself reaching for those exact same words again to describe Cash...

So, if there was a contest between Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, who would win? Well, I guess Presley would have the natural grace to bow to Cash's natural authority. In a real sense, they'd both be winners.

Scuppering such a ridiculous comparison, it's a real shame that Cash's voice cannot then be made-out on the infamous Million Dollar Quartet tapes, which feature Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Cash is present in the photos of this session, and in the personal accounts of those present that day, but paradoxically inaudible throughout the actual tape. I don't personally reckon he hung around after the photographer left. After all, how on Earth could a strong voice like his not come out on the recording?

Anyhow, the end of this documentary gets a little confused. After so many poor-quality archive clips (even the more modern footage looks rough), we're treated to the first verse of the video to his cover-version of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt, which itself features many snatches of old footage, some of them the same ones. As a result, this appeared to be a round-up of the documentary, rather than the personal epitaph that his daughter had been talking about Cash having apparently put-together himself. Perhaps they should have made that clearer before running it.

For all that, it's such a haunting video. The sight of such a seriously old guy still tremoring away is one which I wish we saw more often. If only there were a few more record producers like Rick Rubin, who not only recognised the ongoing appeal of lifers like Cash, but also 'got' his stuff, and nourished with such an empowering work ethic: encouraging Cash to not simply press his 'next' album, but his 'best' one.

I suspect the real reason for the shift in tone of his later work may simply have been one of greater freedom to follow his own convictions, rather than just those ones that agreed with his employers'.

That very haunting video is here.

Labels: ,

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **