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Essay Johnny Cash: The Man in Black

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Most of us know of Johnny Cash, the Man in Black. But do we truly know who he is, the legend in the darkness? Not many are able to answer with a solid yes. Some can say he was a great country performer, being completely unaware of how his music, as well as his image, had a tremendous impact on their own lives, including the music they listen to. Johnny Cash was an influential person in American history because his “Man in Black” image helped solidify his place as a music writer and performer, he was able to rebound from the depths of drug addiction, and he pioneered many different genres of music although he was a country singer.
Johnny Cash’s main reason why he and his band wore black is quite laughable. Of all the clothing options they had, black was the only common color. It also became a well-known stage standard once the song, “Man in Black,” became extremely popular in 1971. Wearing black, to Cash, is a method of conveying a message, a sign. This message was for the weak, the downtrodden, the sick, the hopeless, the lonely, and those that just deserve more in life. Was it hope? Only Cash would know. Unfortunately, the message was stolen by the powerful clutch of Death.
Johnny Cash’s household image in the United States, and eventually, the world, was that of an outlaw, a criminal. This is a very common misconception about Cash’s life. Interestingly, he never served a prison sentence. Additionally, as well as ironically, most of Cash’s fan mail came from those in prison. His seven one-night stays in jail lasted only that, one night at a time. Rumors about Johnny actually doing time were simply rumors. Another example that works against Johnny’s image is his songwriting. The song “Folsom Prison Blues,” for example, has line...


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...nessee Electronic Library. Mar. 15,
2010.
“iTunes hits 10 billion sold.” Billboard. General Onefile. Mar. 6, 2010. Tennessee Electronic
Library. Mar. 15, 2010.
O’Donnell, Paul. “The man in gray.” Commonweal. Nov. 21, 2008. Tennessee Electronic
Library. Mar. 15, 2010.
“OBITUARY: Johnny Cash.” Daily Post (Liverpool, England). Sept. 15, 2008. Tennessee
Electronic Library. Mar. 15, 2010.
Rogers, Jude. “The second coming: inspired by Johnny Cash with his ring of fire, a slew of
ageing crooners are pursuing their desires and reinventing themselves as serious
musicians.” New Statesman (1996). Oct. 27, 2008. Tennessee Electronic Library. Mar.
15, 2010.
Stratton, Christopher. explorefaith.org. 2005. explorefaith.org. 5 March 2010 h.com/music/cash.html>.
The Tab World. 5 Mar 2010 .


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