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.