Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cashing In

Roger's post last week about Johnny Cash reminded me that I had been saving up some Cash videos in my drafts waiting for a chance to turn them into a post or two. Reading his reflections brought to mind a few of my own and finally prompted me to put my own Cash post together.

(You can call it riding Roger's coat tails or copying his inspiration, If you insist. Me, I call it synergy!)

Cash was pretty much a standard musical presence in my house, it seems. My mother was always particularly fond of Southern and bluegrass gospel tunes. I have a lot of memories of her singing with the radio or by herself, especially when she was doing the dishes.

One that she sang quite often was "Daddy Sang Bass," usually the chorus. When I was about five years old or so, or so the story goes, I hit the age where I was too old for the nursery at church. They didn't have children's church at that time, so I had to go to "big church" to sit with my mother and grandparents. Knowing my mother, I'm sure that I must have gotten many lectures reminders about the importance of sitting quietly in church and behaving and all that. Knowing my grandmother, she probably had a purse full of mints to keep me quiet.

So, the first Sunday in "big church" comes around, we're all assembled. In good Baptist fashion, the first hymn is announced. Everyone stands. My mother helps me to find the right page, so I can be like the adults. And everyone starts to sing.

Now at this point, I'm an early reader at best. Mastery of the hymnal with it's strange layouts and musical notes is probably beyond me. Not too mention the fact that I'm not familiar with the music in "big church." Nonetheless, Mom notices that I seem to be singing along with everyone else.

Curious, she leans down to hear what I'm actually singing:

Daddy sang Bass
Mama sang tenor
Me and little brother would join right in there

At which point, she says she had to sit down to keep from laughing loud enough to distract everyone else.

That was the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family singing along with him, in case you didn't know.

When I was in middle school, I had to have surgery. It had to be rescheduled a couple of times because I kept getting sick right beforehand. My dad was stationed in Germany at the time, but we were living in Kentucky. When the surgery finally happened, he came home for a couple of weeks on leave. He brought my a stack of 8-tracks (God, I am old) to listen to while I was in recovery. The two that I remember most were greatest hits collections--Beach Boys and Johnny Cash. I played both of them over and over and over.

Both of these next two songs were on the Cash tape. I've always loved both of them because they showcase his sense of humor, an attribute that I think gets overlooked a lot of times when people are discussing his life. I do have to admit, though, that I really didn't "get" the second one until I grew up and started voting. When I was a kid, I thought the line about the Methodist was pretty funny.

I'm not sure whether either of them truly qualifies as a "hit" per se, but they were a part of that particular tape. Until the internet came along, however, I couldn't get Keith to believe in the existence of either song! They're just not what people think of then they think of Johnny Cash, but they're among my favorite Cash tunes.

Another much disputed song in my house is this one. For years Keith tried to tell me that I was getting confused about the old Kenny Rogers song "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)." As if!

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