Sunday, 3 July 2011
Yet another Johnny Cash biography . . .
Streissguth is a music historian, and that helps to begin with. He has also written about Cash's famous concert at Folsom Prison in 1968 (there's another Cash book to add to the reading list!). Where other books on Cash take a much more encyclopaedic approach, going into detail on every aspect of Cash life, Streissguth is much more sparring, and all the better for it! There's also a more welcome sense of detachment with this biography; while there's certainly sympathy and understanding for his subject, Streissguth is also more ready to cut through many of the myths that have grown up around Cash, both during his lifetime and after. Its not that this is an unpleasant bebunking of Cash, far from it, but Streissguth does manage to present Cash with all his flaws, realistically, with ever stoop to cynicism. The tone befits what is really the most academically rigorous study of Cash's life.
Where he's also quite decent is on the religious aspects of Cash life. There's not much on Cash's supposed 'conversion', or rededication following his crawl into the Nickajack caves in 1967, Streissguth prefers to see the birth of his son John Carter Cash as the real turning point. But there's quite a lot here on his relationship with Billy Graham, and also a fair bit on the pastor, Jack Shaw, he took with him on some of his tours in the later 1970s and '80s.
So, I'm still mulling over whether there's any scope in doing some on this myself . . .