Monday, September 12, 2005

Remembering Johnny

Two years ago today, I had been in my job for exactly one week and one day. The Vol-in-Law called me at the office sometime mid-morning and told me that Johnny Cash had died at a Nashville hospital. I had been expecting it in a way, since watching June Carter Cash's funeral on television (I had been in Middle Tennessee for my own grandfather's funeral) and seeing how frail and grief stricken he looked, but it was still a shock.

I hunted on the Internet for some more information, but there wasn't a lot. Most folks back in Tennessee were still asleep in bed. I thought about them waking up to that news. Suddenly, it became overwhelming for me. I got up from my desk and went outside (it was a beautiful day). One of my new colleagues followed me. She asked me if I was OK, and I had to admit that I was tearing up over a country & western singer that I had never met. I went around to where the smokers congregate and laid my head against the brick wall and cried.

Another colleague, a smoker, who I barely knew, asked me if I was OK, and I told him Johnny Cash was dead. "Damn," he said. "I was just listening to his Sun recordings last night."

I was really embarrassed since I was brand new to this job, and here I was upset over the death of someone I didn't know. But he was someone (is someone) who has enriched my life through his music. So many of my memories, good and bad, have a Cash or Carter soundtrack to them. And in particular Johnny has always been a favorite travel companion.

When VolBro and I were stood on the platform of a train station somewhere in Italy that would waiting for our delayed train that would take us to Milan to catch a flight back to London, we sang "I hear the train a comin', it's rolling round the bend" and "It's cloudy in the West and it looks like rain, around the bend comes a passenger train," I don't know what the well-heeled Northern Italians thought of us.

When VolBro and the Vol-in-Law and I took a driving trip through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, we all brought a selection of CDs to the car and found that we had not less than 8 recordings of "Folsom Prison Blues" with us.

The Vol-in-Law and I took a tour through the "dirty South", down through Mississippi to New Orleans in my mom's car. We stopped at WalMart to pick up a tape (that's what her car played) so we could have just the right tune in our approach to Jackson.

We got married in a fever,
Hotter than a pepper sprout
We been talkin' bout Jackson
Ever since the fire went out

I'm goin' to Jackson...

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