Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Man in black

Bernie asked me my thoughts about Walk the Line, the new Johnny Cash biopic, so here goes.

Will I go see it? Of course. Am I excited to see it? Hmm. Seems to me that biopics of popular musicians can be touch and go. Coal Miner's Daughter is pretty wonderful, but then there is Great Balls of Fire!, the 1989 film that starred Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis, Cash's stablemate at Sun Records. I didn't like the film very much.

But can we talk here? For some reason Cash's music always left me a little cold. Believe me, I know how much people love his songs, because many, many times I have seen "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire" drive people into states of religious ecstasy even when they were being sung by me, of all people. They are great songs, and there are lots more great Johnny Cash songs.

Still, Cash built a career on a tough-guy persona, and I seem to be in a minority in that I never respond particularly well to those. In musicians and songwriters I much favor gentleness and tunefulness over swagger, which is why I always vastly preferred the Beatles to the Rolling Stones. And why I was always a lot more interested in Willie Nelson than Johnny Cash.

Now I know perfectly well that Cash could be both gentle and tuneful, so don't go leaping all over me. I'm talking generalities here, y'all.

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