Sunday, February 28, 2010

Johnny Cash on a Sunday

I've been anticipating the release of American VI, the new Johnny Cash cd, for a long time. These songs are part of the Rick Rubin collection, and so many of the songs on the previous cd's have been revelations. When Cash recorded these songs, some of the strength had gone from his voice, but none of the pathos, the depth of emotion. If anything, the vulnerability in his deep voice gave the songs more gravitas.

It was widely known that there were songs recorded in those sessions that had not been released. So, we all waited and wondered. What would these songs be? Rubin produced songs--promise. Songs that didn't make the first albums--peril.

It's a mixture of both. There are no great Cash originals here, like "The Man Comes Around," or "Unchained." No brilliant covers like "Hurt" or "Rusty Cage." There are reasons these songs weren't on the previous cd's. (Though he does cover one of my favorite Sheryl Crow songs, "Redemption Day").

Still, these songs move me. Many of them have gospel themes, particularly the overcoming of death. I'm not big on heaven as a source of hope. I like the more concrete images found in social/eschatological pictures of God's future. But Cash knew that the close of his life was near when he sang these songs, and they resonate. I understand the importance of these pictures better when I hear Cash sing them.

I've reflected a lot these last few weeks on how my emotional terrain is changing as I get older. Some things that used to be everything to me simply do not matter that much anymore. In many ways, I'm harder to move. But other things, little things in many ways, that would have simply poured over the smooth surfaces of a youthful life, now get snagged on the wear and tear of the years. I am surprised when I cry. And I am surprised at the things over which I cry. And I am thankful for the tears.

1 comment:

happytheman said...

great album again. tears come easy to me now...