Dead Poets

Well, sort of. I don’t normally do the whole “a celebrity I like has died, woe, woe” thing, chiefly because, well, it’s not like I feel personal grief. It’s not like my world is markedly different for their passing. So going on about it, saying “oh god, it’s terrible” seems tacky to me. Of course it’s terrible. It’s a dead human. But I don’t go on about the other people I don’t know dying every day.

So why should Johnny Cash be any different? I honestly don’t know. But I watched BBC2’s tribute to him last night, and by the end of it, I was crying. Didn’t help that the last thing they played was his cover of NIN’s “Hurt”, a song which I seriously hope Reznor has the good grace to never go near again, because the cover completely eclipses the original – it was Cash’s song from the moment he covered it, anyway, and the fact that it was his last release just adds a bit more weight to it. Cash takes a song of teenage self-pity, and transforms it into a look back over a long tiring life, a song about the pain of loss. He gives it weight and serious emotion, against Reznor’s teen angst. It’s hardly Cash’s greatest achievement, but that it should be his last release is an added poignance.

It’s not just that that had me in tears – Cash was the kind of talent that really does the leave the world poorer for it’s passing in a way that so few are, a genuine one-off. The thought that he’s never going to record anything more, that we’re never going to hear him lay his passion and convictions and his heart out in new material is genuinely upsetting, as opposed to “a bit of a shame”.

But he’s done now, and I hope he’s with his God.

5 Comments

  1. I agree. I heard his rendition of ‘Hurt’ and it was utterly compelling.

    He’s one of the few ‘celebrities’ that I’ve felt the world has been lessened by their passing in a way that I will notice; Douglas Adams and Peter Cushing being two others.

  2. I’m sorry to say that I only really got into Johnny Cash’s work at the end of his life, namely due to the fact that someone pointed out that he had covered Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and various others on his last album. Before then, I had dismissed country music as being the typical fare of your typical southern hillbilly types. The album however, did leave a mark on me, and left me wanting more songs with such pathos and dignity. Like Blues music, I feel I discovered it rather late in the day, as my interest only began just before John Lee Hooker died (musical genre banshee anyone?), but I’m glad that I did, as both types of music added a dimension to life that I never even knew existed. We are definitely much worse off for the loss of Johnny Cash, but, in the same way, very thankful for what they gave to the world.

  3. Referred from here

    Totally agree with your point about Hurt. I’m such a spacker I didn’t even realise it was a cover, but thinking about it, it doesn’t even matter.

    Gonna have to get me some more Cash now, although I’m not so sure about Ring of Fire!

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