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Cash (2003)

Cash (2003)

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4.08 of 5 Votes: 5
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0060727535 (ISBN13: 9780060727536)

About book Cash (2003)

I bought a paperback copy of this several years ago, but for whatever reason never got around to opening it. I've been on a big Cash kick for the last few months, though, during which I went on a three-day/two-night road trip with a friend that traced his life and career in reverse chronology from his grave site in Hendersonville down to the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, then on to Sun Studio in Memphis and ending at his boyhood home in Dyess. I thought about reading this before the trip, in case it might help me to better understand the places and sights, but I had already read his Man in Black autobiography so I didn't feel enough compulsion to actually get to it. As it is, I think reading it *after* the road trip worked out better.There was more of a sense of "Oh, hey! I know what he's talking about; I've been there!" reaction that I think made reading this book more fun. I might have had a few more things to visualize about Memphis while there, but I think the trade-off favors the way it worked out. I honestly do feel a greater understanding of his formative years just from having spent a couple hours in Dyess, touring the terrific Dyess Colony Museum that the University of Arkansas has established in what had originally been the administrative building, and his own boyhood home. I'm not by nature a reader who does much visualizing so having walked through that house gave me an almost intimate feel for the anecdotes he shared from that period of his life.Ditto his recollections of recording at Sun, and hanging out nearby with other artists eating burgers. I've walked around that neighborhood, on a sleepy Sunday morning. I've stood where he stood in the recording booth, and I know how spartan a place it is. I instantly understood the thrill that Cash and his peers must have felt in those nascent days of their careers; Sun is one of those places that's so utilitarian and un-glamorous that it screams "THIS IS WHERE YOU PAY YOUR DUES!" Even with a tour group filling in the floor space, there was a palpable sense of potential in the air. If I could feel it in 2015 without having even the slightest notion of any kind of career in music, I can only guess at how euphoric it was for the artists who built rock and roll there.As for the writing itself, Cash's prose is so conversational and his writing and speaking voices so perfectly aligned that I found myself "hearing" him narrate whole passages as I went. I haven't done much reading for awhile (my paltry Goodreads stats attest to that), so I appreciated being able to blow through this in just a handful of short sessions over the last few days. It at least reassured me I still *can* read at a respectable pace; sometimes, I honestly worry that I'm losing my ability to do that.I've read three of Willie Nelson's books and both of Merle Haggard's, and what I found disappointing in those experiences was that the subsequent books either wrote recycled a lot of material originally presented in the respective writers' first books. I think that was one of the reasons I didn't feel much rush to get to Cash after having already read Man in Black. Thankfully, they really are two entirely different books without a lot of overlap - and what there is, is pretty much unavoidable. Where Man in Black is a true autobiography, accounting for his life to the point of the writing, Cash is more of a memoir, almost a journal of sorts.Cash has the feel of dropping in on a grandparent who spends the afternoon in a stream of consciousness recalling tales of yesteryear. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. Of the subjects revisited from its predecessor, the big two are the death of his brother Jack and his experience with addiction. I grew up in a family that had lost a teenager (my uncle) to drowning before I was born. I've seen the affect that kind of loss has on people for the rest of their lives, in both my grandparents who lost their son and in my mother, who lost her brother. It's no surprise to me that he should have spoken about his brother so often that, as he says on page 28, he was told by other kids, "Hey, man, we know your brother's dead and you liked him, so that's enough, okay."As it happens, though, it was Part 3: Port Richey that resonated with me the most. This includes the lion's share of his commentary about his experiences with addiction and not coincidentally, it comprises the largest portion of the book. I don't have those demons; I'm one of those people who, when interested in something, consume as much information about the subject as possible as quickly as possible, but I don't have an addictive personality. I do, however, have mental health issues (chronic depression and anxiety). There were instances where I read in Cash's own words thoughts I've had about myself. He writes on pages 180-181:All the way down at the doors of death, though, I'd discovered that I didn't really want to die; I just wanted the pain and trouble and heartbreak to end, and I was so tired that dying seemed like the only way to get that done. I wanted to stop hating myself, too. Mine wasn't soft-core, pop-psychology self-hatred; it was a profound, violent, daily holocaust of revulsion and shame, and one way or another it had to stop.As of right now, I'm waiting to resolve a matter that requires my in-person attention before I revisit in-patient treatment. There's something reassuring in a morose way of knowing that Cash spent so much of his life not just fighting those same things, but starting the fight all over again several times along the way. One of the greatest pressures on anyone who has been in that place is to never be there again, and the faintest whiff of relapse can bring down an even greater sense of guilt and shame than was already there. There's something almost empowering about reading someone else's experience and knowing that they were there a few times; it means that maybe I can go back to square one and still move forward, too.I almost said that it doesn't matter that the writer was someone as high-profile as Johnny Cash; that hearing this from another patient would have been just as affecting. If I had read the same passage written by any other given celebrity, it may have been comparable, but there's something about the authenticity of Cash that makes it more accessible for me. It's nearly 4:00 in the morning as I type this so I'm sure I'm garbled, but the point I'm trying to make is that it isn't because Cash was a celebrity that I take solace in what he wrote; it's that Cash was so trustworthy about such things.That passage is combined with his discussion about the intersection of his celebrity with his Christian faith, and this too engaged me. My faith has never been nearly as strong as his, even at my strongest and his weakest. At times, I've been outright hostile toward my own faith, and everyone else's, too. It's been on my mind more lately than usual, though, which I attribute to a few of my inner circle sharing with me lately the role that their faith plays in their daily lives and that they would like to see it play in mine. I don't know that I'll ever feel as secure as they feel because of faith, but like Cash wrote, I want the pain to stop. Maybe there's peace to be found in exploring my relationship with my faith. I don't know. I do believe that it isn't by accident that we cross paths with certain people at certain times, and reading this book at the same time I'm struggling with some of these things feels like synchronicity.Despite already owning a paperback copy, I bought a hardback copy at Half Price Books shortly after returning from the road trip and that's what I read. My paperback had been in storage, and I honestly couldn't recall whether I still had it. I've got it on hand, though, and directly finishing the hardback, I switched over and read the afterword Cash penned for the succeeding edition. In it, he writes of nearly dying from previously undiagnosed Shy-Drager Syndrome.Crohn's disease isn't nearly as rare, and they affect people in wholly different ways, but I do know what it's like to have to accept that things in your life are not going to be what they were. Cash gave up touring after forty years; I gave up my hopes of teaching. I can also understand and appreciate why he chose (at least, as of that writing) to remain as ignorant as he could about the nature of the malady. I tried that approach for awhile after I was diagnosed, but I eventually decided that I felt more empowered by knowing as much as I could than I felt "normal" by knowing as little as I could.Very little of this "review" has been about the book, and part of that is that my own approach to writing about what I read and watch has evolved away from feeble attempts at formal criticism that I'm not trained to offer anyway, and into recording how I relate to those things. Partly, though, at least this time, I think it has to do with the brilliance of Cash to take his own experiences and use them to relate to others. I've come to greatly admire the ability to make the personal universal, or vice versa, and Cash clearly mastered that ability throughout the course of his life and career. I imagine many, maybe even most, readers found themselves reacting in their own personal ways to what he shared, whether in the pages of this book or in his music, or anything else he produced.

Although a dislike of the central characters isn't necessarily a bar to enjoying the book, I found my distaste for Cash to do that here. His attitude also made me doubt the veracity of everything in the book.The positives, to start with. Although it has the potential to be confusing, the way the narrative switches between Cash carrying out his present day career obligations and his career at it's height, this works quite nicely, and prevents the drug-induced drama of his downfall becoming too intense. Secondly, the descriptions of the individual characters, and the collective identity of the country-rock-folk performing community is a positive and engaging one. Whilst Cash doesn't pretend to be best friends with everyone he has encountered during his career, we get a good picture of the camaraderie between all those touring at the time, from Elvis to Waylon Jennings.However, Cash's attitude prevents this book fulfilling its potential. Although it is impossible to know the full details of all the incidents, if Cash himself is to be believed, he was never really at fault. His description of nearly all his relationships as being resolved in one way or another to a friendship is one that is hard to take at face value. His lack of genuine remorse for a lot of his behaviour is not something I found easy to take. Although he mentions the redemptive role his second wife June played in his repeated relapses and recoveries, he seems unwilling or unable to accept the full pain he has put his family and friends through. Far too many of his actions, good, bad and lucky, are explained away as the work of God, rather than being framed in an admission of guilt.If I had been able to look past his character, I feel I would have enjoyed this a lot more. For the reader able to do so, there are certainly a good few stories from his career, and an interesting insight into the music industry at that time.

Do You like book Cash (2003)?

Basically this book is about as close as you’ll get to sitting on the back deck of Johnny Cash’s house at 8:00 in the morning, drinking a cup of coffee and hearing him tell a bunch of stories. The book is not chronological, and it doesn’t even fit into any logical order. But, somehow the stories all connect to one another and give the book this perfect flow. It’s like when he finishes telling one story that will somehow remind him of something else so he just starts talking about that for a while. He is very straight ahead about his fame, his ego, his addictions, his faith in Jesus, his music, his career, his family, his triumphs and his failures. Plus you get a firsthand account of all of the great history around Memphis and Sun Studios and Elvis and Carl Perkins, as well as Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings and all the other guys from that era. But, more than anything, you just feel like you’re sitting on the back deck with The Man in Black and there’s a guitar there for him to pick up (or you to pick up) whenever you want. And that may lead into a song or a story or some quick little anecdote; but, whatever it is, you’re loving every minute of it. This book is an amazingly quick and easy read. Good vacation book.

I'm not generally a big autobiography/biography fan but I do like Johnny Cash and so picked this up on a bit of a whim at a market stall at the weekend. I've really enjoyed reading this and got to the end in just a few days as I wanted to keep reading. I loved the episodic way of writing, as if Johnny was just chatting and telling old stories.I've seen and liked the film but this feels more like the real story, not the from birth to death story but a real laying out of 'this is who I am and what's important to me'. I've slowly and unexpectedly to me become a country music fan over the past few years so I found the recording and writing talk very interesting and it made me want to check out some new artists. Also I loved some of the tales about many different artists and being on the road.The addiction and spiritual solution sections I could relate to and they felt honest.As I said I'm not a huge reader of biography but this is a book I'll be keeping on my shelf of memoirs as I'm sure I'll want to dip into it again.

My 3 favorite country music singers of all time are Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., and Merle Haggard. So of course I loved Cash's second autobiography. (The first is Man In Black and was published in 1975.) Cash is not a true autobiography, though, but instead is a collection of memoirs written in a stream of consciousness style. He wrote the first chapter in Jamaica, and so in that chapter he writes about the parts of his life that Jamaica reminds him of. The second chapter he wrote on a tour bus, and it's about stuff that the tour bus brings to his mind. And so forth through the book. Along the way, he writes about his parents, siblings, and childhood; his two marriages and his children; his drug addiction; his religion; his career; and the many other musicians that he calls his friends. If you remember the movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, you'll notice a lot of differences between the way they told his story and the way he tells it himself. I would have liked a more straightforward autobiography. I sometimes felt a bit lost in Cash, and I can't help but think that the stream of consciousness approach resulted in some aspects of his life being skipped over entirely. So not a perfect book, but certainly a must read for his fans.
—Richard Ward

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