Amy Griffith12/14/2017Period 4The Story of the Man in BlackJohnny Cash lived a thrilling life. He once destroyed every vehicle he owned, sunk two boats, and drove a truck off a cliff and barely having enough time to get out (“Cash, Johnny” 3). He started as a farmer who loved music, but could not play it, and ended up as a powerful musician. Even through all the hard times Johnny Cash had, he still found a way to be an influential musician who impacted music and culture. Johnny Cash’s childhood would influence his career. John Ray Cash was born in Kingsland Arkansas, on February 26th 1932 (“Cash, Johnny” 1). He went to Dyess Highschool (“Johnny Cash” 2).
When he was in highschool he was singing on the radio, and before he turned 18, he won his first prize in an amatuer talent competition (“Cash, Johnny” 1). After graduation, he worked at an auto plant in Michigan (Corliss 3). His passion for music started when he was young.
Listening to songs helped him decide what sound he wanted. When he was little he heard a song, and it was just a singer and a guitar (Gill 2). This song inspired his style, which was similar. In order to pursue his dreams of a music career, he needed to learn the basics of music, such as singing and guitar. His mother instructed him with the basics of the guitar and paid for private singing lessons (“Cash Johnny” 2). His brother also helped him realize that being a musician was what he wanted to do.
When his brother created his band, he wanted his own too (“Johnny Cash” 2). He knew he wanted to be a musician but he did not do that right away. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1950. He did his training in Texas. He was a radio operator, who was stationed in Germany. He left the Air Force as a staff sergeant. (“Cash, Johnny” 2). He did not enjoy his time in the Air Force (“Johnny Cash” 2).
Being in the Air Force he was required to fight against others, but that was not the only person he was fighting against. Throughout his life he was fighting against himself (Corliss 3). By looking in his eyes, it is evident he learned a lot (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 1). His reputation would be based on everything he did and learned from. He is known as an unpredictable artist (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 2). This would eventually hurt his career. His career hit a decline when he got dependent on different types of drugs (“Cash,Johnny” 2-3). He fought with his addictions a lot, from drugs and alcohol, to his own health problems (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 1).
He was addicted to drugs such as amphetamines (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 2). His wife June Carter and God helped him get over his drug abuse (“Johnny Cash” 3). In order to stop his addiction he stayed in one room for a long period of time (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 1). He was determined to quit and came out better than ever (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 1). Despite the problems he encountered with his addictions, he also had major health problems. Cash’s health problems including, diabetes, Shy_Dragar Syndrome, bad eyesight, and a broken jaw. He lived a life full of pain (Corliss 1). He told his fans he had Perkinsift’s disease during a show, when he was feeling dizzy (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 2).
Not long after, he was told he had Shy-Drager Syndrome which is incurable (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 2). Even with his disease he did not give up (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 1). He would not leave hospital visits and overnight stays keep him from producing music (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 1). Johnny Cash once said he did not want the disease to have any part in his life. He could not think he was going to die (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 2). Music was his medicine.
Music helped him feel better (Corliss 5). Even though he enjoyed producing music, that is not all he did. He was also an actor (“Cash,Johnny” 2). He hosted the Johnny Cash Show and had singers, who were never on TV, come on (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 3). He died because of one of his many health problems. His death at 71 was because of diabetes (Conniff 1). Throughout his long life, he found varies ways to influence music.
His influence on music is still noticed today. He was rated as one of the most promising country artist and the most promising artist (“Cash, Johnny” 2). His music is one of a kind. He was an influential country artist, but also a rock n roll singer (Gill 1). He acted like he did not know music genres (Corliss 2). He was the first artist to combine rock n roll with country (Conniff 1). Even though he is one of the most known country singers, and also one of the creators of rock and roll (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 1).
He is one of the two people ever elected to both the country and rock and roll hall of fame (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 1). His unknown music genre shows artists they do not have to stick to one genre throughout their whole career. He also had a huge impact on country music and its style (Conniff 2). When other singers are singing about violence, Cash feels bad for them when they get attacked.
He does not think music has the power to cause a violent act. He claims it is fun to sing about death and murder because that is what country is about (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 4). He not only help rock n roll be created, but also another genre of music. One of his songs would help gangster rap be created (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 3). His songs themselves would influence music. His songs represent many of the things people go through everyday.
He tries to make them relatable to his fan (“Cash, Johnny” 3). Cash enjoyed his sins and his songs reflect his enjoyment (Olsen 3). His songs show artists that music should relate to the listeners, but also themselves. He changed the way popular music is viewed (“Johnny Cash” 3). Cash showed musicians that it is ok to not play through the whole song; silence is a good thing because it can show a lot of emotion (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 3).
Cash is an unique singer; just his voice can convey a lot of emotion (Corliss 3). He shows young artists it is ok to be different. Johnny is respected by many younger artist (“Cash, Johnny” 4). One way he showed it is ok to be different was through outfits. He is dressed completely different than other artist (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash” 2).
He did not want to simply blend in with the other artists, he wanted to be his own person. He was not able to read music so he just plays the tune over and over until the others get it (“Cash, Johnny” 3). Even though he could not read music, he still pursued his dream. This shows younger artists that if they want to do something bad enough, never give up. He got everything he had overtime. From his rugged looks to his one of a kind voice (Corliss 2).
He shows newer musicians things take time to come, do not give up just because they do not get something. He also showed them a very important quality in famous people. John never thought of himself as a big star musician, but as a friend to his fans and others (Gill 1).
He shows that musicians should be modest and caring towards all of their fans. He also influenced music through all of his awards. He received many awards for his albums and songs (“Cash, Johnny” 3). He earned a grammy for a folk album (Corliss 5).
He won 9 grammys, 6 CMA awards, and won a aggie award (Corliss 8). His awards show all of his achievements and provide motivation for artists to be the best they can. Everyone will always mourn his loss but his music will never be forgotten (Conniff 1). His sympathy for prisoners will influence his music (Corliss 2).
He uses his music and social status to impact his time period. He was impacted the society in many ways through music. He sang of problems he saw in society (Corliss 2). Some of these problems were in prisons.
His interest in prison reform started after he watched “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison” (Robins 2). He thinks prisoners are not treated fairly and come out worse than when they went in (“Cash, Johnny” 5). In order to solve these problems he first had to make them known.
John and two inmates went to the US senate subcommittee to campaign about prison reform (Robins 1). This began to get people to realize the roubles, which there where many. People realized that prisons were not doing their jobs and only making inmates worse (Robins 3). Prisons were no longer constitutional according to a federal judge. They had bad living conditions and a prisoner guard system (Robins 4). The guard system was prisoners guard other prisoners. That system was like slavery.
Having armed prisoner guards only led to even more abuse, causing prison to be really scary (Robins 4). A lot of prisoners have been killed in prisoners by fellow inmates (Robins 4). Music and concerts play a huge role in John’s interest and promotion for prison reform. When he first played in a prison, he wanted to play songs prisoners could relate to.
The concert went over well. He did not believe prison was the answer to crimes. He believed they should be giving jobs and opportunities (Gill 4).
He would impact the many prisoners he performed for. The prisoners loved his performance and went wild at the concert (McKittrick 1). A shocking thing happened at one of his concerts. John touched the prisoners so much they cried (McKittrick 1). Cash did this concerts because he wanted to during. Cash did these concerts at prisons for free and around his touring schedule. These concerts is what got him stated in prison reforming (Robins 2).
The convicts were positively impacted because of Johnny. Cash’s performances made the prisoners days (Robins 4). Cash also had some help in promoting this cause. Cash supported Arkansas Governor and promoted their cause through music (Robins 4). This Governor helped Cash and the prisoners. Cash used the fact that the prison show was being recorded live to donate $5,000 out of his pocket and push the Governor to do the same (Robins 5). As time went on, Cash became a great supporter for prison reform.
Cash was a spokesperson for this because he was a strong believer that criminals should go to rehab rather than being punished. He believed they can be changed for the better (Robins 4). His efforts to change prisons worked. Cash’s dedication is shown through his work to create a Chapel. Two inmates at the chapel from when Cash was there said he changed their lives (Robins 5). John did not only campaign for Prison Reform he also provided solutions. Those solutions included separation of criminals, chang classification of offences, pay more attention to rehab rather than punishing, and getting a prisoner counselor (Robins 6).
This changed prisons. Current day prisons are not as scary and focus on making prisoners better people and tuning their lives around (Robins 5). All of this happened because of music and a movie. He was also a great overall person. He was a great friend. He helped those who could not help themselves. He shows people what being human is all about (Conniff 3-4).
He also supported many other causes. He was involved in his community and the world. He was involved in civil cases, campaigning and Billy Graham’s initiatives (Conniff 3). He also realized things others did not. He also believes racial inequality is another reason for crimes and drugs (Gill 4). He was not afraid to support what he believes in. He was a humanitarian before it was accepted in society. He was anti-war, but he supported the military and their efforts.
He supports prisoners and the killed police officers families (DeCurtis “Johnny Cash Won’t” 4). Even though he influenced society verbally, he also did the same thing nonverbally, through his outfits. For Cash black was a symbol of mourning things that was troubling him in society, from death of soldiers, mistreating the elderly, to Americans who could not read.
He thought he could be a person to try to help change these problems (Gill 5). He worked hard to make the world he lives in the best place it could be. Even through everything Johnny Cash being through, he still impacted others and the world.
Through the good and the bad, people loved Johnny Cash. He helped to shape music to the way it is today. He also did everything he could to make this a better place for others and himself. He is an artist who will always be remembered.