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Johnny Cash's Birthday

Johnny Cash would have turned 75 yesterday. The German paper Die Welt writes about the rapidly increasing admiration for this "conservative," deeply religious musician in Germany and recommends a new CD and DVD (HT: Marian).
Don Stadler, an American in London, wrote a guest blog post in the Atlantic Review a few months ago: The Beast in Me: Johnny Cash and the American Recordings

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2020 on :

I also love his last recording, 'when the man comes around' is the title I think. By the way, March 3. will be the birthday of one of Berlin's most popular musicians and cabaret artists, [url=http://www.otto-reutter.de/]Otto Reutter[/url] (1870-1931). By his popularity he could only be compared with Caruso or the Beatles...

David on :

Who says Johnny Cash was conservative? What about "Men in Black" where he rails against the Vietnam War? "I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been, Each week we lose a hundred fine young men." Johnny was always on the side of those at the bottom of social ladder - the prisoners, the homeless, the addicted.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Who says Johnny Cash was conservative?" Die Welt does: "Im vergangenen Jahrhundert konnte man als deutscher Johnny-Cash-Bewunderer sehr einsam sein. Der Sänger galt damals noch als der erzkonservative, gottesfürchtige Knochen, der er bis zu seinem Tod im Herbst 2003 auch war. Heute wird in Gesellschaft niemandem so gern gelauscht wie Johnny Cash. Sogar von Frauen." They even use a very strong word for "conservative," which I can't quite translate. I should have put it in quotation marks. I have done this now. "Johnny was always on the side of those at the bottom of social ladder - the prisoners, the homeless, the addicted." Some conservative are on their side as well, right?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Does it all depend on the meaning of "conservative"?. I always tried to stay away from political theories. Thus I don't know how different the American understanding of "conservative" is from the German understanding. Many conservatives in Germany are more supportive of the weak than the liberals or neoliberals. Was Cash a conservative in the German sense, but not in the American sense? Any Cash experts here?

Don S on :

I have to agree with David. A prodigy indeed! Cash was a 'liberal' on many things; he opposed the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, and possibly Afghanistan as well (not sure abut the latter). The condition of prisoners and particularly the length of sentences was a major cause of his, and I believe he opposed the death penalty as well. Cash romanticised the plight of the American Indian, though I believe he would have despised posturing fools like soon to be ex-professor Ward Churchill, the 'self-made' American Indian. Cash had a passion for the common working man which goes at least halfway toward the vision of folk singers like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. That was a tradition of the US Left though it is much neglected today now that the Left has been swallowed by the denziens of the urban chain coffee bars who worry about 'sprawl' and 'global warming' and don't really give a hoot about people who work at Wal-Mart & live in trailer parks. If the Democrats wish to again becoem a mass party of the people they have to lose the focus on 'cappucino liberalism' recapture people like Johnny Cash. They absolutely can do this - if they wish, because the GOP doesn't serve the working man very well either....

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks, Don. Wikipedia claims this based on the Cash autobiography: "He was friendly with every U.S. President starting with Richard Nixon. He was least close with the last two, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, because of a personal distrust of both men and because of his declining health. He was probably closest with Jimmy Carter, who became a very close friend[1]. None of these friendships were about politics, as he never particularly supported any administration, but was just friendly with the nation's leaders. He stated that he found all of them personally charming, noting the fact that it was probably essential to getting oneself elected.[1] When invited to perform at the White House for the first time in 1972, President Richard Nixon's office requested that he play "Okie from Muskogee" (a Merle Haggard song that negatively portrays youthful drug users and war protesters) and "Welfare Cadillac" (a Guy Drake song that derides the integrity of welfare recipients). Cash declined to play either song and instead played a series of his own more left-leaning, politically-charged songs, including "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (about a brave Native-American World War II veteran, one of the men memorialized on the famous photograph "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" who was racially mistreated upon his return to Arizona), "Man in Black," and "What is Truth?" Cash claimed that the reason for denying Nixon's song choices were due to him not knowing them and having fairly short notice to rehearse them, rather than for any political reason.[1]" [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_cash[/url]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ David and Don Don writes: "If the Democrats wish to again becoem a mass party of the people they have to lose the focus on 'cappucino liberalism' recapture people like Johnny Cash. They absolutely can do this - if they wish, because the GOP doesn't serve the working man very well either...." So you see a chance for more Social Democratic Policies in the US? Some on the right are screaming that Pelosi and Clinton want to bring European "socialism" to the US. Oooh, what a scary ghost story. Never mind, that there is not any socialism in Europe anymore. Just some social democratic policy. Isn't there also a protectionist wing in the Republican party. America first? Contradict with America? Republican Senator Hagel cares for the working poor... Okay, he does not have much influence among Republicans. I don't know much about US domestic politics, but it seems to me that John Edwards and Howard Dean have the best and most extensive record of policy suggestions to help the working poor. Howard Dean apparently lost the last primary after screaming a bit too loud, when motivating his staff, which was caught on tape and the Democrats did not think that was "presidential." And John Edwards was defeated by John Kerry in 2004 and is far behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the polls right now. Why is that? It seems that the working poor are not much involved in politics; therefore low voter turnout and lack of electoral success for Edwards and Dean. Are they too busy with several jobs and too disillusioned to care? Am I wrong?

Don S on :

"So you see a chance for more Social Democratic Policies in the US?" Social Democratic as in an expansion of the welfare State to give a bettrer deal to those who won't work? Nah. What I think is possible is something like Lunchpail socialism of some kind - particularly measures which help support people working longer, like health insurance subsidies for aging workers. Stuff like that. I think on big lesson of US welfare reform is that people in the US won't pay for an expanded, 'better', more generous dole - but they will pay for measures which help people work and engage in the community, like child care.

Don S on :

There is a later release than 'The Man Comes Around", 2020. "A Hundred Highways: American V" was released last summer, although a lot of the production work was done in studio after Cash died, so in that sense 'The Man Comes Around" was the last Cash album. Personally I prefer the first three in the 'American Recordings' series. 'American Recordings, 'Unchained', and 'Solitary Man' have a bigger impact I think. Cash's voice is stronger and the songs are better than on the last two of the series.

Don S on :

"Some on the right are screaming that Pelosi and Clinton want to bring European "socialism" to the US." I believe Pelosi does want this in her heart of hearts. I also think she is too smart a politician to actually try it. So unless and until I see her actually do something I see as 'European' socialism it's a non-issue. The Clinton's? Which Clinton? Bill Clinton? No way. Pramatist all the way. Hilary falls sopmewhare between Bill Clinton and Pelosi in her personal attitude but with a dose of pragmatism (or you could call it ambition I guess).

Don S on :

"I don't know much about US domestic politics, but it seems to me that John Edwards and Howard Dean have the best and most extensive record of policy suggestions to help the working poor." Pretty Boy Edwards is shallower than the Platte River in dry-time. He was put on the ticket for the same reason that Goerge Bush put Danny Quayle on his ticket- to make Kerrey appear more of a statesman. both men had incredibly thin Senate resumes - but Kerrey's was 18 years of nothing compared with Edward's 6 years of nothing. Dean had an interesting record as Vermont governor before transforming himself into a proper cappucino Democrat for the 2004 presidential run. He's not terribly interesting any more.

David on :

Don, Don't you think there is a resurgent "populist wing" of the Democratic Party represented by new faces such as John Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia that is moving in this direction? I think Johnny Cash would have hit it off with the cattle rancher Tester.

Don S on :

David, I don't know much about Tester and maybe not about Webb although I've heard more about the latter. Webb seems a strange mix of good sense cohabiting with obsession. So I don't know except to say that two Senators do not a 'wing' make. Except perhaps the sense that every Senator forms a wing of one.... ;)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Don "Social Democratic as in an expansion of the welfare State to give a bettrer deal to those who won't work? Nah." Don, why do you and so many other conservatives associate welfare with welfare fraud? Welfare fraud seems to be the first thing that comes to your mind. Isn't there more tax evasion than welfare fraud in the US and in Europe? Do you associate free market capitalism with tax evasion? Do I read to much into your comment? Probably. Anyway, Al Franken seems to run on a social democratic platform: "Conservatives like to say that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – and that’s a great idea. But first, you’ve got to have the boots. And the government gave my wife’s family the boots. That’s what progressives like me believe the government is there for. To provide security for middle-class families like the one I grew up in, and opportunity for working poor families like the one Franni grew up in." Video: [url]http://alfranken.com/page/content/videoMessage[/url] Transcript: [url]http://alfranken.com/page/content/message[/url]

Don S on :

Me: "Social Democratic as in an expansion of the welfare State to give a bettrer deal to those who won't work? Nah." Joerg: "Don, why do you and so many other conservatives associate welfare with welfare fraud? Welfare fraud seems to be the first thing that comes to your mind. Isn't there more tax evasion than welfare fraud in the US and in Europe? Do you associate free market capitalism with tax evasion? Do I read to much into your comment? Probably." Straw Man, Joerg! Who mentioned 'welfare fraud'? Not me. I'm sure it still happens in the US but the prevalence is far less than it was during the 70's and 80's - or so I would guess. I think the 1996 welfare reform put paid to welfare fraud as a significant problem - or it may have gone even earlier. That doesn't mean I don't see evidence of concern with welfare fraud every workday of my life, however. The UK government has a campaign going against 'benefits fraud' postered in the bus I ride to work, emphasising that all the various fiddles are crimes and will land you with a criminal record! Is there more tax evasion in the US than welfare fraud? Without doubt. Look at the numbers - 100 million taxpayers and perhaps 5-6 million on various welfare schemes. I don't have hard figures but regard it as unlikely that there are a larger number of welfare cheats than tax cheats (in the US). In percentage terms I'm not as certain. There may be a degree of overlap. A person working 'off the books' and taking welfare benefits is both a welfare and a tax cheat, for example. One does not preclude the other. In fact I'd say that wiollingness to do one might imply willingness to do the other..... Al Franken, the failed talk show host? LOL!

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