Johnny Cash evolved county music and became a quintessential American hero, admired and adored by millions. Johnny Cash’s inspiration for his music and the foundation of his career began in his childhood growing up in Dyes, Arkansas. Cash, born on February 26, 1932, grew up on a cotton farm hit extremely hard by the Great Depression. Crop prices plummeted and life became very hard for people in the area. The one positive that came from the era was that the tough economic times “Freed thousands of Arkansan from their centuries-old obligation to work the land” (Streetlights 24).
Greater opportunities were even to many families, but the Cash’s decided to stay in their small town in northern Arkansas. When Cash was a young boy of twelve tragedy struck his life, he later described it as this, “it was my brother, Jack. He was my inspiration. He was two years older than and he was killed at the age of 14. I always wanted to be like him. He was a strong person, he was a Bible student, he was in perfect shape, physically. I always wanted to be like him” (Strategist 29). Johnny always admired his brother, it has been said that Jack was his hero.
This event is portrayed in many of Cash’s songs as his inspiration. He loud be guilt-ridden with thoughts of Jacks death for the rest of his life. Another impact of his brothers death was that his faith in God became an important part of his life. He grew up going to the Central Baptist Church in Dyes. Cash’s faith showed through in his early work as a songwriter when he was originally a Christian gospel singer. From an early age his mother, Carrie, saw his potential and did everything she could to help him achieve his best.
Johnny Cash later in life said this about his mothers influence on him, “As a matter of fact, we were very poor and she took in washing from the school searchers, washed their clothes to make money to give me singing lessons, voice lessons. After about three lessons the voice teacher said, ‘Don’t take voice lessons. Do tryout way’ (Streetlights 36). That is exactly what Johnny Cash always did. He did not play by the books or play it safe. He challenged what was socially acceptable and what he was expected to do.
Johnny Cash had a unique spin on country music, and he did it by “Doing it his own way’. Johnny Cash evolved county music by bringing his unique style to the genre. Cash strengthened the bond between folk and country music. As well e made country become a bit louder and wilder. “His music spanned into the genera’s of country, folk, rock and even gospel music, this shows that J. R. Cash was one of the most fascinating performers in popular music” Anyone Cash). Johnny Cash’s music has always been diverse and moving to all. His lyrics are relatable to people from all over the country and the world.
One of the reasons he is so widely regarded is because of this ability to make people seemingly very different able to relate through his lyrics. Cash achieved a rare feet in the ass and 60, he made rock and rollers want to come see a entry music performer, and he mixed up country music standards that had been in stone for generations. One of Cash’s most noted impacts has been on the performers that followed in his footsteps. “Once Johnny Cash walked the line, countless musicians followed in his Many artists have accredited part of their successes to J.
C. , such as Bob Dylan and Kuris Craftsperson. Country star Keith Urban once explained how Cash impacts nearly everyone, “l think that any artist would have to say that there’s Some type Of influence from Cash in them. If nothing else, just as an astounding example of believing n yourself and following your path,” (Tombs). Believing in yourself was something Cash always did. It was his driving force and a major reason he was so popular. Without his rebellious, bashing confidence he would not be the pop culture legend that he is today.
Cash was always a symbol of rebellion for many people. Because of his outlaw image he inspired a lot of artists in the Punk-Rock genre. The Man in Black pushed the limits of country music, changing what people expected it to be and diversifying it at the same time. Johnny Cash achieved many accolades in his long, influential life. Debatable the most noteworthy is how he is one of three artists, Elvis, Hank Williams, and Cash, who is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Becoming a member of both is not an easy feet for any artist In order to do so one has to be the very best in each style of music. Cash at 48 became the youngest performer to ever be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (Danker). Kuris Craftsperson put it the best way, “You felt like he should’ve had his face on Mount Rushmore” ( Craftsperson). This view was really how the American public viewed J. C. He as an American hero on par with Presidents or war heroes. He was given as much respect and attention as great men of politics, sports, and economics.
Cash won thirteen Grammar Awards in his life and a final one just months before his death in 2003 for his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. His first Grammar was won in 1 968 and his last thirty five years later. This time span goes to show how lasting the music Of Johnny Cash has been throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. In 1999 he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammas. Johnny Cash did not have an easy road to ultimate stardom as some would suspect. He grew up in a troubled time in one of the regions hurt worst by the great depression.
Growing up he faced tragedy after tragedy as his family struggled to cope. His father was not a happy man because he was always reliant on his richer brother Ray Cash. Cash spent a few years in the Air Force during WI, “the air force dispatched Cash to Kessler Air Force Base in Billow, Mississippi, where he learned Morse code, typing and some electronics”(Streetlights 39). Over the time he was deployed Cash later said that he would partake in the normal army routine of booze and women, all while he was married to his first wife Vivian.
Cash was later haunted by these thoughts and subsequently, “during the almost fifty years between Cash’s discharge and death, he rarely spoke in detail about his mission” (Streetlights 42). Scarred bathe thoughts of conflict at a time in his life when he was at the pinnacle of his faith, the impact on Cash was immense. Something that always plagued Cash’s mind was the death of his brother Jack. The worst part is seen by something his daughter Kathy said, “Grandpa always kind of blamed dad for Jack’s death… Dad even told me one time, it Was just the two of us in his Cadillac and we had left Grandma and Grandpa’s, and he choked up.
He said, ‘one time when I was little my daddy-?he was drinking’-?and he said something like ‘Too bad it wasn’t you instead of Jack” (Streetlights 89). Cash always starved for his father’s approval, but he could never get past the death of his first son. Even later in life he never really formed the bond with his father that he had with his mother. The way Cash coped with these problems were by drinking mass amounts of alcohol and doing as many drugs as he could. Cash put it best himself “l took all the drugs there are to take, and I drank’.
The results of this were harsh on J. C. Himself and his reputation in the eyes of the public. Especially toward the end of his life his crystal clear Christian image had been tarnished. After more than twenty years Cash was steering away more and more from the image that he worked so hard to create for himself. Over his life he faced numerous drug charges and was arrested on a few occasions. When his career was first taking off in the early ass he was addicted to amphetamines, using them to make it through his long tour hours (Streetlights 82).
In 1965 his drug addiction took its worst form after he was arrested, “He was consuming pills as if he’d never been arrested, ‘He stayed in pretty good shape for about a month… ND then he drifted back into pills. Two weeks after he started again, he was back in, head over heels, worse than ever “(Streetlights 131). The never ending spiral of health then relapse followed Cash for decades. He was never able to really clean himself up and the urge would always come back. Drugs became such a regular part of Cash’s touring life that it got to the point where he couldn’t do without them.
From his troubles as a child, his years of service for the country, and finally to his battle with addiction, Johnny Cash did not have an easy journey to fame. Johnny Cash will forever be known by many as the unforgettable “Man in Black’. In his most famous song of the same title he describes why he is always dressed in such a somber garb, “l wear the black for the poor and the beaten down/Living’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town/l wear it/for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime/But is there because he’s a victim of the times” (Johnny Cash).
Meaningful lyrics was what he was all about. Cash always reached out to all kinds of people in different situations with his lyrics. He would constantly make political statements, either broad or specific. He was a fighter for equal rights and equal justice for all. Cash had an measurable impact on a whole generation of kids, Tom Waits, singer and song-writer once said, “He is the patron saint of every kid with a guitar,” (Ionian Cash Legacy). Cash inspired people to make anyone believe that with the right motivation you could rise up from nothing to become a legend.
Thousands wanted to follow in his path because they saw how a small town kid from Arkansas could make noise, both literally and figuratively, on the global scene. Johnny Cash is one Of the most celebrated and influential musicians in history. He used his ability to craft lyrics to bring people from all over the entry together and made the world a little bit closer. Cash revolutionized country music in ways still being seen today. The largest contribution Johnny Cash had to society was how he changed what a music star had to be.
His rebellious, but still religious attitude broke down the standard that you couldn’t manage to do both. Before Cash it was either you were an outlaw, or you were a squeaky clean country western singer. He mixed up genres, forming a combination of folk, rock and roll, and country. His uniqueness at a time of very similar performers gained more fans and publicity for country music, increasing its popularity to record highs. Crossover hits inspired other artists to go out of their comfort zones in order to change up their unique style.