Johnny, Dad and me | MUSIC: Rock & Roll Quarterly | Indy Week
Pin It

Johnny, Dad and me 

Whenever I think of Johnny Cash, I think of my father. The fact that they were both Pisces, born roughly within two years of each other, was only the tip of the iceberg. Both of them spent time in Memphis, both were passionate about Native American culture, hell, they even dressed alike. Most importantly, each brought me closer to the other. My father introduced me (and reintroduced me) to Cash's music, and when I was in my early twenties, that same music played a big part in reintroducing me to my father.

In 1989 I was traveling across Europe playing drums in a British band called Sink. Not long after my twentieth birthday, we arrived in Poland to wind up what had been a fairly grueling two-and-a-half month tour. Finding myself with plenty of Polish currency that was practically useless anywhere else in the world, I wandered into a department store in Warsaw.

Tucked away in the LP section, behind the thin paper sleeves that housed records by Madonna and the Beach Boys, I found a black record cover with "Johnny Cash" emblazoned across it in bright orange. Thinking it might make a nice gift for my Cash-loving dad, I plunked down the necessary 500 zlotys, and made my way back to our tour van.

When I got back to America a few months later, I was sifting through the mountain of LP's I had accumulated in my six months overseas and I came across the Cash LP from Poland. I half-heartedly put it on the turntable, thinking I would listen to it once and then give it to my Dad. From the opening strains of "Hey Porter," I was hooked. The starkness of the instrumentation, the passion in the vocals, the clarity and imagery in the lyrics--it was all there, filling me with a sense of nostalgia, for I had heard that voice growing up. That record would ultimately provide the spark for a renewed relationship between my father and me. It would also be instrumental in pointing me towards a new, lasting career with the Two Dollar Pistols.

When he found out about my reinvigorated love for the music of Johnny Cash, my dad was thrilled. He made tapes for me of the Cash albums he had, and gave me Cash CD's over the next several years as presents. We both expressed dismay when Cash hawked burritos for Taco Bell in 1992, but we were both thrilled when Cash went acoustic on American Recordings. Where once we had argued about what I was doing with my life, now we were discussing the merits of Johnny Cash performing a Glenn Danzig tune.

Years later, when he turned 68, my dad and I, as always, discussed the fact that he and Cash and I were all three Pisces, and I got to hear for the umpteenth time about how Dad had made me watch "The Johnny Cash Show" with him when I was little. I gave him two CD-R's of a couple of import-only Johnny Cash LP's for his birthday.

When my father died last year, four months to the day after that sixty-eighth birthday, there were four CD's in rotation in his car: a Tom T. Hall Greatest Hits CD, an advance copy of my latest record, and the two Cash CD-R's I had given him.

Thanks, Johnny.

Latest in MUSIC: Rock & Roll Quarterly


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in MUSIC: Rock & Roll Quarterly

  • Local Reviews

    Local Reviews

    The Proclivities; The Yayhoos; Fashion Design; Lovehead and the Real; The Never
    • Jul 26, 2006
  • The infinite shag

    The infinite shag

    Landlocked and in penny loafers, shag enthusiasts keep the beat moving
    • Jul 26, 2006
  • Downtown Durham club: SOS!

    Downtown Durham club: SOS!

    Michael Penny put a sign up in the window of his club the other day. It says, “No streetlights, no sidewalks for over 20 weeks and no end in sight. FIX THIS!"
    • May 3, 2006
  • More »

Twitter Activity


It is my favorite. When it comes to entertainment, don’t compromise on the quality and always use the CDs of …

by Lauren Forster on End of an Era? (MUSIC: Rock & Roll Quarterly)

I also keep music records. It is entertaining hobby. I always prefer to the Easy replication for buying CD, DVD …

by Lauren Forster on Rick Miller (MUSIC: Rock & Roll Quarterly)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation