It's been five years since Johnny Cash left us and he is a bigger force in my life than ever. It's hard to explain but sometimes I forget that he was famous. My dad was a big fan and since I grew up with his image, his voice, his music and numerous stories (my cousin, Sylvia, was the wardrobe lady for he and June in the early years), I tend to think of him like a favorite uncle. I never met the man but did manage to catch him in concert in LA once. As expected, he was wonderful, gracious and kicked major ass.
I know plenty of folks who walk around the planet asking themselves, "What would Jesus do?" I think this is a wonderful idea but it just doesn't work for me - I feel about as close to Jesus as I do Socrates or Gandhi. Johnny Cash was not only a man whose time on Earth overlapped with mine but he was imperfect, and he knew it. So many of his songs are about striving to be better - including a song I heard last night called, "I'm Gonna Try To Be That Way." (Thanks, Fang!) So instead, I often ask myself, "What would Johnny do?"
Just recently, this practice stopped Bad Heather dead in her evil tracks. During the blurry mania of the DNC, I'd shared drinks and appetizers with some friends in a bar. The next day, I realized I/we had unintentionally skipped out on the tab. Now, I had gotten away scott free and I am watching my budget but ... what would Johnny do?
Sigh. I picked up the phone, called the bar and gave them my credit card number. The guy on the other line was impressed. "Wow, thanks for calling back!" he said. I mumbled something about not wanting the staff to think that Democrats were assholes, tacked on a fat tip and hung up.
Now THAT is what Johnny would have done. And then he would have written a song about it that made you dance, cry or want to hop a train.
This practice also caused me to do a 180 on my death penalty stance. For most of my life, I was very much a "Fry those evil fuckers!" kind of gal. Until one day, I watched then-Texas Governor George W. Bush mock the clemency plea from a female death row inmate. (He ignored it and fried her anyway.)
It hit me like a sudden wind gust: 'Holy shit! I AGREE with George Bush and I DISAGREE with Johnny Cash????? WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME???' Clearly, I needed to rethink the matter. I'd become one of those people that just thinks what they think without thinking about it.
Then, I did a little research and found out that capital punishment actually costs more than life sentencing (due to the repeated appeals process) and that was the final straw. I'm now officially against the Death Penalty, thanks to JC. He was a real human who passed no judgement on others, was kind to everyone he met and celebrated his spirituality through song and ...well, I'm gonna try to be that way.
Check out a special tribute radio show on JohnnyCash.com that you can listen to anytime.