#53 – Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn (My 100 Favorite Books)


Johnny Cash was a brilliant musician, from Walk the Line and Folsom Prison Blues to When the Man Comes Around and Hurt.  But he wasn’t just a brilliant singer and songwriter, he was a fascinating individual.  A man of faith who wrestled with demons his entire life.  I always appreciated Johnny, but it was this biography that really caused me to admire him.  If you are a fan of biographies and a fan of Cash, you need to read this one.

The story of the song Hurt is my favorite.  It was originally recorded and released by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails).  When Reznor learned Cash, the aging country singer, wanted to record the song, he was skeptical.  Later, when Reznor heard Cash’s recording, he wept and said something along the lines of, “Its his song now.”  Even more amazing is that by the time Cash was making the final albums of his career (the American series) his voice was going so he struggled to sing.  The songs had to be edited, combining the portions from different takes where you could hear Cash singing.  Surprisingly, especially since the industry saw Cash as long past his prime, these are some of his best albums.

The lesson may be to keep honing your craft, keep working through the pain, because there’s always more to come in the future.

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