Today is the Anniversary of Johnny Cash’s landmark show at Folsom Prison in 1968. The recording of that show has went on to find high placement on both Rolling Stone and Blender’s 500 best albums of all time lists (#88 and #63 respectively). Upon it’s release, a reviewer for Life magazine stated that Cash sang the songs like “someone who has grown up believing he is one of the people that these songs are about.” That is part of what makes any music great. And it an essential ingredient too often missing in much of popular music today.
Much of today’s country music is full of fake cowboys who mimic the country outlaws of yesteryear with increased pop sensibilities. Hip hop is full of studio gangsters who parrot the narratives of an earlier generation of emcees. And I shouldn’t get started on the insincerity of the current modern rock scene. Even much of the Indie scene that seemed so fresh just a couple of years ago is quickly becoming a boring self-parody. I am not saying you have to live every detail of a narrative to truly feel the story. I don’t think Johnny ever killed a man to watch him die. But you do have to be rooted in something, authentically connected a people, a story in able to truly feel it and present it. It becomes hard to do that when today’s industry can put you in a new house and behind the wheel of a new car off of the success of your first single.
Maybe this is why my musical taste have become increasingly underground in recent years, especially as far as new music is concerned. But unfortunately the overwhelmingly uneven distribution of fame for talent hurts some of these artists the most. And it leaves those without a personal computer, a twitter account and time to pursue new music with a narrow selection.
Wow, maybe I am starting to sound old. But I still think most of us can always tell music that is real, born in the real life experiences, created from the real life pain and joy of an artist. That is the music that always sounds new, fresh, still full of passion. No matter how dated it is.
Thinking about the hope of the Resurrection on the cusp of celebrating the Incarnation.
So Cash is more my dad’s speed than my mom’s really. But I dedicated Jay-Z to him on his birthday. So what you gonna do? Elvis and/or Amazing Grace just seemed to obvious this year. I have been over a lot of songs in the last 24 hours.
If it is really the thought that counts, then this one gets an A for effort and is the equivalent of the homemade birthday card or the praying hands on tinfoil that hung on the Christmas tree each year.
Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas Mom. I love you.