You Can Have it All/ My Empire of Dirt: Johnny Cash, Creativity and Suffering

We heard from Johnny Cash in worship service tonight.   See, as the revised common lectionary  takes us through the book of Job, we at Lockerbie Central United Methodist, are taking an extended look at suffering and creativity.  

Johnny Cash was a country legend; an artist who outsold the Beatles in the late 1960s, hung out with Billy Graham, and had a raging drug addiction.  Despite not having the best voice or singing abilities, not being the best looking, and not being the most accomplished guitar player, he has become one of the greatest American artists; the only person in the songwriters’, country music, and rock n roll hall of fame.  

The  relationship between Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash made it into Rob Bell’s recent endeavor, Drop Like Stars:  A Thoughts on Suffering and Creativity.  During the last decade of Cash’s life, Rick Rubin, the famous music producer with roots in hip-hop, helped Cash find relevancy again.  

Without these album’s late in Cash’s life, starting with 1994’s American Recording, there might not have been no  Walk The Line, the Oscar winning movie about  Cash’s stormy relationship with eventual wife  June Carter, which grossed nearly 200 million dollars worldwide. 

In The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash, author Dave Urbanski tells of an encounter between Cash and U2 frontman Bono.  Bono was traveling the U.S. and had dinner with Cash at his Nashville home.  Bono was amazed at the dinnertime prayer that the legendary singer gave.  After Cash finished the prayer, he said, “I sure do miss the drugs though.”  

Johnny Cash had an empire. Had his own museum and even had his own zoo.  He was far from perfect but realized that all he had, thanks to Rick Rubin and the Trent Reznor song Hurt, that everything he had was nothing more than an empire of dirt.  

The song concludes: 

A million miles away 
I would keep myself 
I would find a wayIf I could start again 
A million miles away 
I would keep myself 
I would find a way


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