Friday, September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash Dies in Nashville Hospital

Recording artist Johnny Cash, known to his fans as the Man in Black, died today (Friday) from diabetes-related complications. He was 71. Only four months ago his wife, June Carter Cash, died of complications from heart surgery at age 73.

Other than Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash is the only person to have been inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To read the New York Times obituary, click here.

Here's the link to an NPR page that has its obituary for Cash and other audio files.

By the way, Cash’s 1971 song, “Man in Black,” underlined his anti-war (Vietnam) stance. Whatever worries he had then, as a country music artist from the South, didn’t keep him from speaking his piece. Today, we must suppose, Clear Channel would banish him from its 1,200 radio stations’ play lists for being unpatriotic.

Here’s a slice of Cash’s explanation for why he chose to wear black onstage:

“…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.”

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