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How Johnny Cash inspired his son

Johnny Cash’s pedigree knows no bounds. ‘The Man in Black’ was admired for his musical talent, trademark baritone voice and rebelliousness, coupled with a sombre, humble personality that endeared him to fans worldwide. His musical heroism is so eminent that his songs have been covered by a variety of heroes ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Depeche Mode. 

In fact, the clearest indicator of his cultural potency, apart from the everlasting classics that he produced, was the fact that he helped to nurture and support a fresh-faced Bob Dylan, a point that cannot be ignored. 

An icon of rebel country, Cash has rightly been hailed as something of a blue-collared messiah, who combined the fundamental essence of Robin Hood with the cocaine-fuelled carnage of the era. He cut a stark departure from the rhinestone wearing traditional country and contemporary musical modes such as psychedelia. A true iconoclast, no word is better at describing the man who invariably walked the line.  

Famously, his life was full of ups and downs, excess, adultery, and everything else one would usually equate with a musician of his stature. However, for a time, he churned out records with ease, producing hit after hit, a trend which started with his debut album Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!, back in 1957. 

A man whose life was woven like a movie, there’s no surprise that when Walk the Line was released in 2005, it was one of the most talked-about movies of the year and remains a stellar example of a music biopic. A full-hearted piece of cinema, it helped to cement the larger than life mythos of ‘The Man in Black’. 

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The film helped to convey the endearing nature of Cash, and confirmed him as a person who left a mark on all those who met him, and by the end of the film, you felt like you knew him as well. Be it Rick Rubin, Joaquin Phoenix or otherwise, Cash left a gaping void when he passed away in 2003. Unsurprisingly, the place where his loss was really felt was in his family, but duly, they only remember him in the best of ways. 

During a 2014 Reddit Ask Me Anything, the singer’s son shed some light on how he remembers his iconic father whilst revealing some candid anecdotes about rebel country’s shining light. When asked what the best advice his father gave him was, Carter Cash explained: “The best advice my father gave me was not something he said. Or instructed. It was the way he lived his life. Towards the end of his life, my father was struggling and in pain, going blind, and sickness was taking over his body. Still, he endured, and not only that, he excelled. And created some of the most beautiful recorded material he ever did for the American Recordings series.” 

Carter Cash’s admission is a significant one. We can all learn from the way that Cash carried himself right until the very end, bowing out in strength. He’ll always be remembered for the re-ascendance he enjoyed during the latter years of his life, showing that it’s never too late, even in the face of such terminal adversity. 

Elsewhere, Carter Cash revealed his thoughts on the Johnny Cash parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Storyand it may surprise you. Asked if he found it entertaining, he said: “Yes. My dad would have laughed also. I was mad when I heard about it, and then I saw it, and I thought it was great.”

A colossal figure in life and death, Carter Cash’s account is just one of many reasons why Johnny Cash’s inimitable spirit lives on.

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