FOX featured this song right before the Super Bowl last week in their pre-game patriotic tribute. So, here’s the “Man In Black” and his spoken-word tribute to America in full…
I’m always shuffling my podcast interests, and my recent “jam” (pun intended) is finding podcasts based on music. I stumbled upon a couple of winners (or so I think) yesterday: The Johnny Cash Radio Hour and Dead Fantasy.
The latter of the two is nothing but Grateful Dead music, about two and a hours worth a podcast. I’m 85% of the way through the first episode I’ve listened to as of this writing, and I haven’t heard any commercials. It’s just music, music, and more music.
The Johnny Cash podcast was also pretty interesting. The most recent hour-long episode that I heard dealt with nothing but all of the songs related to trains that “The Man In Black” sang in his career that spanned six decades. I thought I knew a considerable amount about Johnny, but it paled to comparison to the knowledge of the host of the program, Bill Miller.
For instance, I didn’t know that there was a 1975 version of his classic song “Hey Porter” out there, which was Johnny’s first single in 1954 with the Tennessee Two.
Lots of podcasts out there, certainly enough for everyone’s tastes.
A perfect song for the week ahead…
Wednesday marked the 35th anniversary of the passing of reggae legend Bob Marley, who died May 11th, 1981.
I tend to think that no matter what music type you happen to like, there are performers that transcend what type of music they do. Johnny Cash would be an example of that, so would Bob Marley.
This song and another, “Top Rankin,” speak of similar topics you see in any populist movement. First, when people who come together behind a single cause, that cause is usually hard to deny or defeat. Secondly, that the people in power have to be closely watched that they don’t exploit the masses (“sucking the blood of the sufferers”) as prey.
He saw all of that in 1979, putting those two tracks in his “Survival” album.
I have always found this song to be quite powerful and to have a hidden meaning, though I didn’t realize it as such until the last decade or so of my life. It was a big deal when the song and album were released in 1985, as this was the very first country video MTV had ever aired.
You know, back when they actually played music?
You have Willie Nelson lending his voice in the first part of the song, saying he was a roving outlaw who pillaged in the early 20th century western United States as he pleased. He was hung by “bastards” in the spring of 1925.
Kris Kristofferson is the voice of a sailor who has a fatal accident in the Gulf of Mexico during a storm of some kind.
Waylon Jennings voices a builder on what’s now referred to as the Hoover Dam south of Las Vegas (a place called Boulder on the wild Colorado River, buried in a great tomb that knows no sound), again the victim of an apparent accident.
The song’s most powerful verse goes to Johnny Cash, talking about how he flies a starship some point in the future, saying that yes, he was once a highwayman, and the sailor, and a worker on the Boulder/Hoover Dam. What I get out of it is that a life can take on many possible roles, and can end many ways by choices or by fate. However, your spirit lives on forever, and isn’t taken from you once your respective life ends. There is a bigger picture that you play a part of than even the one present life you currently have has in store for you.
That’s what I get out of that song anyway, and it’s a beautiful sentiment.
As much as I try to be a political atheist, it might surprise you that I am not much so when it comes to religion. I believe there is a God, that the species I am apart of had to have been created at some point somewhere, and that we as a being were put where we are for a reason. After that, it gets a little hazy, and it’s hard to tell who’s right about what when it gets down to some specific generalities.
My Facebook buddy Dave posted something on Facebook yesterday that I’ve always been curious about in my thoughts: the existence of Hell. The story he linked to was from the UK website Church And State, which has an interview with Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong stating that the concept of hell was an invention of the church to control them by placing an element of fear into their beings.
See, I’ve always wondered about that. If we all have the capability of being good, and if God loves all of his creations, why don’t we all go to Heaven, and why does Hell exist? Yes, I admit that there are some really bad people through the annals of history whose names I won’t repeat here, as I’m sure the names of those figures will instantly pop into your heads.
Or, as Johnny Cash famously sung in The Highwayman, maybe we just all turn into a single drop of rain. Then again, I always seem to wax philosophical during the holidays.
Sometimes it is best to “walk the line” even when no one is watching you.
More coming soon…