I’m not stunned about the death of Johnny Cash, but I am deeply affected by it. I’m not sure why — I only recently converted to his music (perhaps 3 years ago when I met my wife) and I really only know his standards and his rock re-makes, which are terribly mournful. (His cover of NIN’s “Hurt” is as unforgettable as is he and cuts to the core of the man.)
In part I think my sadness about his death, which oddly coincides with that of the talented actor John Ritter, can be attributed to the fact that he deeply felt and made others feel all through his life. This is a rare feat, and one that I often wish I had truly pursued. It’s the life of an artist, of course, but it’s also the life of someone who rarely compromised, who took extensive risks with his work and personal ife, and who was faithful to his core even while trembling. Johnny Cash, unlike John Ritter, was perhaps one of the most important artists of the 20th century, up there with Picasso, Dylan, and Guston.
I actually miss him and, listening to his last album this afternoon, I hung my head.