Johnny Cash was once almost disemboweled by an ostrich – his own ostrich at his own ranch. There’s a rumor that the morphine he took for the pain after the incident addicted him to narcotics. He is on record as having started a forest fire with a truck (it was the Los Padres National Forest in California, a fire hazard at most times, and the fire Cash started burned several hundred acres). He was a fanatical coin collector. Atypically for people in the country-music milieu, he strongly opposed the Vietnam War. As a radio code intercept operator for the Air Force, he was the first to pick up the news of Stalin’s death. These are only a few of the stories about one of the more colorful figures from popular music, and as Johnny Cash biographies go (there are many of them), those told in his own words, of which this is the second and deeper, provide a special look into his life.
A humble, introspective look back by a complex musical great
Cash looks back more on the man than on the star. He does cover his career, including the early times at Sun Records where he recorded with such icons as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, on through his move to Columbia and so on and so forth, but the private Cash is the one who gets the main footage here. A complex person, as the anecdotes about him hint, a sometime addict, a less than ideal husband and father, a devout but nonconformist Christian, and all of that comes out in this Johnny Cash biography in his own words. The book is organized around Cash’s homes (in Tennessee, Jamaica, and Florida, together with his home away from home, the tour bus), and was written in the context of an ongoing tour, in the format of a look back on a 40-year career. Cash isn’t the most perfectly eloquent writer in the world (his talents lay in music) but his dusty humor and humble self-reflection make this Johnny Cash biography worth the buy.