Stairway to Heaven

A truly original American, “The Man in Black” has just passed away.

[quote=“AP”]Johnny Cash Dies at 71

NEW YORK - Johnny Cash (news), a towering figure in American music spanning country, rock and folk and known worldwide as “The Man in Black,” has died, according to hospital officials in Nashville, Tenn. He was 71.

“Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure,” said Cash’s manager, Lou Robin, in a press release issued by Baptist Hospital in Nashville.

The release said Cash died at the hospital at 1 a.m. EDT. He was released from Baptist on Wednesday where he had spent two weeks being treated for an unspecified stomach ailment.

“I hope that friends and fans of Johnny will pray for the Cash family to find comfort during this very difficult time,” Robin said.

Cash had battled a disease of the nervous system, autonomic neuropathy, and pneumonia in recent years and was once diagnosed with a disease called Shy-Drager’s syndrome, a diagnosis that was later deemed to be erroneous.

Dozens of hit records like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” defined Cash’s persona: a haunted, dignified, resilient spokesman for the working man and downtrodden.

Cash’s deeply lined face fit well with his unsteady voice, which was limited in range but used to great effect to sing about prisoners, heartaches, and tales of everyday life. He wrote much of his own material, and was among the first to record the songs of Bob Dylan (news) and Kris Kristofferson (news).

“One Piece at a Time” was about an assembly line worker who built a car out of parts stolen from his factory. “A Boy Named Sue” was a comical story of a father who gives his son a girl’s name to make him tough. “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” told of the drunken death of an American Indian soldier who helped raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II, but returned to harsh racism in America.

Cash said in his 1997 autobiography “Cash” that he tried to speak for “voices that were ignored or even suppressed in the entertainment media, not to mention the political and educational establishments.”

Cash’s career spanned generations, with each finding something of value in his simple records, many of which used his trademark “boom-chicka-boom” rhythm.

Cash was a peer of Elvis Presley when rock ‘n’ roll was born in Memphis in the 1950s, and he scored hits like “Cry! Cry! Cry!” during that era. He had a longtime friendship and recorded with Dylan, who has cited Cash as a major influence.

He won 11 Grammys

“On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothing short a’ dying
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.”

Sunday Morning Coming Down
– Johnny Cash

Your post made the tears come to me eyes, Hakkasonic. The world’s an emptier place with him gone. RIP.

I’ll be listening to his stuff all weekend…

“We beat the drum slowly and played the Fife lowly,
Played the dead march as we carried him along.
Down in the green valley, laid the sod o’er him.
He was a young cowboy and he said he’d done wrong.”

The grim reaper has been working overtime this week.

[b]Man In Black[/b]

By: John R. Cash.

(Recorded February 16, 1971)

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Appropriate for 911

Ragged Old Flag

By John R. Cash,

Tributes to the Man in Black

Elvis Costello: “He was a great, great man. I am saddened and very sorry for all Johnny’s family. He made me feel very welcome in his home and I will never forget that.”

Bob Harris (BBC Radio 2’s country music show host): “Next to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash is seen as the foremost country male figure in the second half of the 20th century. One of the great things he brought to the music was a more open mind, bearing in mind he came from a rockabilly and rock’n’roll background, and of course he also encompassed gospel and folk.”

Mick Jagger: “I was really saddened to hear of Johnny’s death. He is a great loss to the music community. His influence spread over many generations of different people. I loved him as singer and a writer. I remember years ago a big part of our repertoire was two of my two favourite Johnny Cash songs, I Walk The Line and Ballad Of A Teenage Queen.”

Bono (lead singer of U2): “I considered myself a friend, he considered me a fan - he indulged me. He showed me around his house, his ranch, his zoo - seriously, he had a zoo in Nashville - his faith, his musicianship, it was a lot to take in.’ He was more than wise. In a garden full of weeds - the oak tree.”

Ed Benson (head of the Country Music Association): “He was not only a giant in the music business but a cultural icon … something very few people can say,” he said.

Tom Petty: “His ability to take a song and make it his own is just uncanny. I heard him sing my song “I Won’t Back Down,” and I just thought, God, he must have written that, because it never rang so true to me as when I heard him sing it.”

John Mellencamp: John Cash is an American original, uncompromised in his craft and incomparable in its execution. He makes you feel that he is playing solely to reach the best part of your spirit."

Merle Kilgore (best man at Cash’s wedding and co-writer of Ring of Fire): It’s a sad day in Tennessee, but a great day in Heaven. The ‘Man in Black’ is now wearing white as he joins his wife June in the angel band."

Nick Cave (Australian singer): “He was the real thing. He had such a wealth of experience in his voice, heaven and hell and no-one could touch him.”

Emmylou Harris (country singer): “There’s never been a voice that had that kind of power, that voice-of-God kind of quality to it. It’s probably one of the most recognisable sounds around the world.”