Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Yet more Johnny Cash!

I came across another Johnny Cash biography the other day, and read it while on holiday's last week. In my previous Cash blogpost, I mentioned that the two biographies of Cash that I'd read were really weak on the spiritual dimension of his life, especially on the experiences that saw him delivered from drug addiction at the end of the 1960s. Well, this new study, Dave Urbanski, The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash (2003), claims to focus specifically on Cash's religious life - so I was hoping it would fill in some of the gaps left by the other two biographies.

Well, it turned out to be a pretty disappointing read in the end. There's hardly anything new here, and no real depth of analysis, despite the copious amount of material that Cash himself wrote about his relationship with God. Its actually a pretty poorly conceived and badly written book, and its hard to imagine what particular market the author and publishers had in mind for it. The only positive feature of it was the more in-depth look at the first four of Cash's albums for the American Recordings label. Here, Urbanski at least comments on the songs and tries to reflect upon their significance in the light of Cash life work.

All of which leads me to think that I really do need to re-read Rodney Clapp's, Johnny Cash and the Great American Contradiction: Christianity and the Battle for the Soul of a Nation (2008), but I'm also beginning to wonder whether there might be scope for a book on Cash and his music which tries to examine him within the context of Southern US evangelicalism. That would need someone who was not only an expert on Cash, but also someone familiar with the landscape of American fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

A research trip to the House of Cash outside Nashville is beginning to sound quite tempting . . . . .  . . !

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