Sunday, September 13, 2015

Johnny Cash and Memory--Great Men and Lock ups and Fast Moving Free People

Maunderings the morning after.

The commercial filled REBEL show last night was watchable only if you were concerned that you might not live to see it on Netflix without ads and in what you hope is the version longer than what they showed on CMT.

It stirred me up on many levels from many decades.

I first heard Folsom Prison Blues while pretty much locked up in a TB sanatorium in the East Bay in 1955. The doctors, once and a while, would put their heads in for a moment and turn and stride away, on their rounds. They just kept a-moving and that was what tortured me. Then I checked and the Internet said I had to have made that up. The song had not been released yet! Well, I know about Neisser and the tricks of memory and how you can re-write history to fit with new information, but some things you don't get wrong. Guess what? It was being played on the radio in the Bay Area late in 1955. So thousands of people in the Bay Area locked up for whatever reason got to hear the song then. I guarantee you none of them forgot where they first heard it.

It stirred me on so many levels, starting with Arkansas and Jack.

I was driving back from Boyle Heights on a Sunday morning when I heard "Sunday Morning Coming Down" for the first time. You had to have lived in many different rented rooms in the South, maybe, to feel it. Maybe when  just turned 17 you had to have stayed in a little rented room upstairs in Many, Louisiana, while the Truebloods or Truegoods celebrated Christmas downstairs. Lonely.

Kris remembers Johnny singing the song with "wishing Lord that I was stoned" instead of "wishing Lord that I was home," as the network wanted. He just forgets that Johnny would not sing "cussing at a can that he was kicking." At the Troubadour I was sure Kris would not live another year. He lived, but it's painful to see him sick now. The show made him look bloated. Did they have something draped over him? Now if he makes it till June he will be 80. More to worry about.

Roseanne is a remarkable woman and daughter, and Rodney was perfect as a son in law still. Why put Sheryl Crow in this show? Justin Bieber at least was not on. Who was this "Eric Church"? Whoever he was, he justified his presence. Did I not hear Waylon mentioned? or for a moment on The Highwaymen? Merle was wonderful, and looked stronger than when he came here a few years ago. Kris also was weak when he came here a few years ago. Now, when Willie came here behind the Madonna Inn I got to hold his hand for seconds seconds seconds while grinning like a fool. Kris shook hands with me at the Troubadour and I sat right behind him inhaling his smoke and looking at the boniest back I would ever see and deciding then that he was going to die very soon and I had better buy all the records. And what records they were, before he got into that political phase! At a crisis in 1977 I saw Willie and Waylon at the Santa Monica Auditorium. Yeah.

Roseanne was perfect in her gratitude to that great patient man Rick Rubin.  The idea that he would just sit and listen to Johnny until he understood what to do! What a man.

I got out HURT afterwards and played it once. It was easy to find because I had dug it out last week.

Then I could not believe how long it was since I had first heard HURT and how long since Johnny had been dead. Two years ago? Three?

What a great American. I wept during Obama's first inauguration because the Indians were forgotten in all the inclusive rhetoric. White and Brown and Yellow, white and brown and yellow.  Not Red. Johnny did not forget.

So we muted the commercials.

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