Waarom haatgroepe in die 1960's agter Johnny Cash aan gegaan het

Waarom haatgroepe in die 1960's agter Johnny Cash aan gegaan het


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Bedreigende pamflette. Gekanselleerde vertonings. Dit was in 1965, en die kontemporêre musiekmusiekster Johnny Cash het in sommige dele van die Jim Crow South 'n boikot ondergaan. Maar die rede was nie sy onlangse arrestasie vir moontlike dwelmsmokkel nie-dit was sy voorkoms op die trap van 'n hof met 'n vrou wat volgens hulle Afro-Amerikaner was.

In 1951 was Cash net 'n lugmag -radiooperateur wat oorsee gestuur sou word om Sowjet -uitsendings te onderskep. Dit was omtrent die keer dat hy Vivian Liberto, 'n skaam 17-jarige uit San Antonio, op 'n skaatsbaan ontmoet het.

Na 'n hofmakery wat duisende briewe bevat, trou hulle in 1954. Kort daarna het Cash die hoogte ingeskiet as 'n rockabilly- en country -kunstenaar. Sy behendige liedjieskryf en diep stem het hom gou 'n fanbase gekry, net soos sy outlawagtige beeld. Nie net het hy swart byna al sy optredes gedra nie, maar Cash het die skerp grense van country-musiek verskuif met sy anti-outoritêre liedjies en op die verhoog.

Toe hy na die land se sterreklim klim, ontwikkel Cash 'n verslawing aan voorskrifmedisyne - en 'n passie vir 'n ander getroude vrou, June Carter. Sy huwelik met Vivian was op die rotse toe hy op 4 Oktober 1965 by die grens tussen Amerika en Mexiko gearresteer is nadat hy 'n groot hoeveelheid amfetamiene en kalmeermiddels by 'n Mexikaanse handelaar gekoop het. Doeane -agente het 475 Equanil -tablette en 688 Dexedrine -kapsules in sy kitaarkas gevind en hom in die tronk gegooi. Cash het 'n nag in die tronk deurgebring en twee maande later skuld beken op die besit van onwettige dwelms.

Hy het met 'n uitgestelde vonnis en 'n boete van $ 1.000 ontslae geraak - en hy het geen idee gehad dat hy op die punt was om 'n vuurstorm te veroorsaak terwyl hy by die trappe van die hof in El Paso, Texas, afstap nie.

'N Foto van Associated Press van Cash en Vivian het die volgende dag in koerante verskyn-en vir sommige lesers het dit geblyk dat Vivian, 'n Italiaans-Amerikaanse vrou wat selde gefotografeer is, swart was.

Die National States Rights Party, 'n wit supremacistiese groep in Alabama, het die foto in sy koerant gepubliseer, Die Thunderbolt, met 'n artikel wat gedrup is met rassistiese retoriek. Die geld wat deur Cash se treffersrekords gegenereer word, het volgens hom “soos Johnny Cash geskarrel om dit van dwelm- en negervroue te voorsien.”

LEES MEER: Ek het saam met Johnny Cash na die Folsom -gevangenis gegaan

Kontant is deur sommige suidelike ondersteuners geteister en geboikot. "Ek en Johnny het doodsdreigemente ontvang, en 'n reeds skandelike situasie is oneindig erger gemaak," onthou Vivian in haar memoires van 2008.

In 'n artikel van Oktober 1966, Verskeidenheid beskryf Cash as "die onskuldige slagoffer van 'n doelgerigte haatveldtog in die suide." Die 'rassefout', het die anonieme skrywer geskryf, het boikotte en dreigemente veroorsaak. 'In die kode van die suide', is die artikel verder, 'is daar geen groter misdaad as misvorming nie.' Destyds is interras -huwelike in die suide verbied.

Alhoewel die National States Rights Party nie die Ku Klux Klan was nie, het dit noue bande met die organisasie gehad en in die publisiteit oor die veldtog teen Cash, het baie afsetpunte - en Cash self - dit as die KKK geïdentifiseer.

"Cash se bestuurder moes reageer," sê die kontant -biograaf Michael Streissguth, skrywer van Johnny Cash: Die biografie. 'Hy was daar buite en het gesê dat Cash nie met 'n swart vrou getroud was nie. Cash het 'n verklaring gemaak dat sy vrou in werklikheid wit is en 'n regsgeding gedreig.

'Ek onthou dat ek daaroor met sy dogter Roseanne gepraat het,' sê Streissguth. 'Sy het 'n brief van hom gekry wat sê:' Ek is jammer dat ek nie tuis was nie, maar ek was besig om teen die KKK te veg. ' lang afwesigheid van die huis af. ”

Streissguth vind dit kommerwekkend dat Cash gevoel het dat hy so sterk moes ontken dat hy met 'n swart vrou getroud was. Maar, sê hy, Cash se loopbaan toon dat hy rasverdraagsaam was. Hy wys op Cash se vennootskappe met swart kunstenaars op sy ABC -televisieprogram en liedjies soos 'All of God's Children Ain't Free', wat kwessies van rasse -gelykheid raak, as 'n beter aanduiding van Cash se eie gevoelens oor ras. Cash het ook kommentaar gelewer oor die Verenigde State se behandeling van inheemse mense op sy album uit 1964 Bitter trane, 'n konsepalbum wat die vernietiging van inheemse Amerikaanse grond en gruweldade teen inheemse Amerikaners ondersoek.

Die voorval het 'die potensiaal gehad om sy kern in die suidelike gehoor te beïnvloed', sê Streissguth, maar dit bly uiteindelik 'n voetnoot in sy groter verhaal.

So ook die National States Rights Party. Alhoewel Die Thunderbolt 'n Abonnentebasis van 15 000 op sy hoogtepunt gehad het, was die partytjie self klein en het dit slegs 'n kort rol gespeel in die geskiedenis van Amerikaanse haat. "Sy propaganda en openbare aktiwiteite is daarop gemik om die hartstogte van toegewyde rassiste en hatemongers aan te wakker, en in sommige gevalle was dit ten minste suksesvol," het die FBI in 'n verslag van 1966 geskryf.

Maar sy veldtog teen Cash het slegs gedeeltelik geslaag. "Daar was meer kansellasies van sy konserte oor die dwelm -arrestasie as hierdie aanklagte wat die separatiste -groep gemaak het," sê Streissguth.

Cash en Vivian se huwelik het in 1967 geëindig, 'n jaar nadat die stresvolle veldtog stoom verloor het. In dieselfde jaar het die Amerikaanse hooggeregshof die wette teen misverloop as ongrondwetlik bevind Loving v. Virginia. Vandag het die houding oor die interras -huwelik dramaties verander. Volgens 'n Gallup -peiling in 2013 het 87 persent van die Amerikaners die huwelik tussen swart en wit mense verkies - teenoor slegs vier persent in 1958.


Johnny Cash

Ons redakteurs gaan na wat u ingedien het, en bepaal of hulle die artikel moet hersien.

Johnny Cash, bynaam van J.R. kontant, (gebore 26 Februarie 1932, Kingsland, Arkansas, VS - oorlede 12 September 2003, Nashville, Tennessee), Amerikaanse sanger en liedjieskrywer wie se werk die omvang van country- en westerse musiek verbreed het.

Kontant is van kleins af blootgestel aan die musiek van die plattelandse suide - gesange, volksballades en liedere van werk en klaagliedere - maar hy het kitaar leer speel en begin tydens die militêre diens in Duitsland aan die begin van die vyftigerjare liedjies skryf. Na militêre diens vestig hy hom in Memphis, Tennessee, om 'n musikale loopbaan te volg. Cash het saam met die Tennessee Two (later Tennessee Three) begin optree, en optredes by landskoue en ander plaaslike geleenthede het gelei tot 'n oudisie met Sam Phillips van Sun Records, wat Cash in 1955 onderteken het. Liedjies soos "Cry, Cry, Cry," 'Hey, Porter', 'Folsom Prison Blues' en 'I Walk the Line' het hom aansienlike aandag gebring, en teen 1957 was Cash die beste opname -kunstenaar in die land en op die westelike gebied. Sy musiek is bekend vir sy afgetrokke klank en fokus op die werkende armes en sosiale en politieke kwessies. Cash, wat gewoonlik swart klere gedra het en 'n opstandige karakter gehad het, het bekend geword as die 'Man in Black'.

In die 1960's het Cash se gewildheid afgeneem toe hy die verslawing van dwelms bestry het, wat sy hele lewe lank sou herhaal. Op aandrang van June Carter van die Carter -familie, met wie hy sedert 1961 saamgewerk het, het hy uiteindelik behandeling gesoek wat die egpaar in 1968 getroud het. Teen die laat 1960's was Cash se loopbaan weer op dreef, en hy is gou deur 'n groter gehoor ontdek. Die seingebeurtenis in Cash se ommekeer was die album Johnny Cash by die Folsom -gevangenis (1968), wat regstreeks opgeneem is voor 'n gehoor van ongeveer 2 000 gevangenes in die Folsom -gevangenis in Kalifornië. Bestuurders van die platemaatskappy het die uitvoering as 'n riskante stap beskou, maar dit was die perfekte geleentheid vir Cash om homself weer as een van die mees relevante kunstenaars van countrymusiek te vestig. Hy gebruik die sukses van die album en die opvolg daarvan, Johnny Cash by San Quentin (1969), om die aandag te vestig op die lewensomstandighede van gevangenes in Amerikaanse gevangenisse, en hy word 'n vokale kampioen vir strafhervorming en sosiale geregtigheid. Regstreekse optredes in New York en Londen en sy televisieprogram "The Johnny Cash Show" (1969–71), wat afwyk van die standaard variëteitprogram deur gaste soos Ray Charles, Rod McKuen en Bob Dylan (wat Cash ingeroep het) op sy album van 1969 verskyn, Nashville Skyline), sy kragtige eenvoudige liedjies van elementêre ervarings aan die algemene publiek gebring.

Hoewel Cash hom as 'n legende in die musiekwêreld gevestig het, het hy teen die laat tagtigerjare 'n afname in rekordverkope en belangstelling gehad. In 1994 beleef hy egter 'n onverwagte herlewing nadat hy onderteken het met Rick Rubin se American Recordings, wat veral bekend was vir sy metal- en rap -dade. Cash se eerste vrystelling op die etiket, die akoestiese Amerikaanse opnames, was 'n kritieke en gewilde sukses, en dit het hom 'n nuwe generasie aanhangers besorg. Latere rekords ingesluit Ongeketting (1996), American III: Solitary Man (2000), American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002), en die postuum Amerikaanse V: 'n Honderd snelweë (2006). Hy het talle toekennings ontvang en 13 Grammy -toekennings gewen, waaronder 'n lewenslange prestasie -toekenning in 1999 en 9 Country Music Association -toekennings. Cash is verkies tot die Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980 en tot die Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1996 ontvang hy 'n Kennedy Center Honor. Sy outobiografieë Man in swart en Kontant (saam met Patrick Carr) verskyn in onderskeidelik 1975 en 1997. Loop op die lyn, 'n film gebaseer op Cash se lewe, is in 2005 vrygestel.


Die bittere trane van Johnny Cash

Deur Antonino D'Ambrosio
Gepubliseer 9 November 2009 01:07 (EST)

Johnny Cash toer Wounded Knee saam met die afstammelinge van diegene wat die bloedbad in 1890 in Desember 1968 oorleef het.

Aandele

In Julie 1972 sit die musikant Johnny Cash teenoor president Richard Nixon in die Withuis se Blue Room. Terwyl 'n horde media 'n paar meter van hulle af saamtrek, het die countrymusiek-superster gekom om die hervorming van die gevangenis te bespreek met die selfgesalfde leier van Amerika se "stille meerderheid". 'Johnny, is u bereid om 'n paar liedjies vir ons te speel,' het Nixon vir Cash gevra. 'Ek hou van Merle Haggard se' Okie From Muskogee 'en die' Welfare Cadillac van Guy Drake '.'

'Ek ken nie die liedjies nie,' antwoord Cash, 'maar ek het 'n paar van my eie wat ek vir u kan speel.' Geklee in sy handelsmerk swart pak, sy gitswart hare 'n bietjie langer as gewoonlik, het Cash die band van sy Martin-kitaar oor sy regterskouer gedraai en drie liedjies gespeel, almal beslis links van 'Okie From Muskogee'. Omdat die land nog in Viëtnam vasgevang was, het Cash veel meer as net hervorming van die gevangenis. Nixon luister met 'n bevrore glimlag na die weergawe van die sanger van die eksplisiete teenoorlog "What Is Truth?" en "Man in Black" ("Elke week verloor ons honderd goeie jong mans") en na 'n volks proteslied oor die lot van inheemse Amerikaners genaamd "The Ballad of Ira Hayes." Dit was 'n waaghalsige konfrontasie met 'n president wat by Cash se aanhangers gewild was en op die punt staan ​​om 'n verpletterende herverkiesingsoorwinning te behaal, maar 'n blik op hoe Cash homself sien - 'n vyand van skynheiligheid, 'n bondgenoot van die neerslagtiges. 'N Amerikaanse protesanger, in kort, net soos 'n country -musieklegende.

Jare later word 'Man in Black' onthou as 'n sartoriese stelling en 'Wat is waarheid?' as 'n periode stuk, indien enigsins. Van die drie liedjies wat Cash vir Nixon gespeel het, was "Die ballade van Ira Hayes." Die liedjie is gebaseer op die tragiese verhaal van die Indiese oorlogsheld van Pima wat verewig is op die Iwo Jima-vlagfoto, en in die Iwo Jima-monument van Washington, maar wat 'n eensame dood gesterf het deur die giftige mengsel van alkohol en onverskilligheid en alkoholisme. Die liedjie het deel geword van 'n album met protesmusiek wat sy platemaatskappy nie wou bevorder nie en wat radiostasies nie wou speel nie, maar dat Cash altyd onder sy persoonlike gunstelinge sou tel.

Die verhaal van Cash en "Ira Hayes" het 'n dekade voor die ontmoeting met Nixon begin. In die nag van 10 Mei 1962 maak Cash 'n langverwagte debuut in New York in Carnegie Hall. Maar in plaas daarvan om die cognoscenti te beïndruk, het Cash, wat met dwelmverslawing begin sukkel het, gebombardeer. Sy stem was hees en moeilik om te hoor, en hy verlaat die verhoog in wat hy beskryf as 'n 'diep depressie'. Daarna het hy hom vertroos deur saam met 'n volkssanger na die stad te gaan om musiek te hoor by Greenwich Village's Gaslight Caf é.

Op die verhoog was protesballadeerder Peter La Farge, wat 'The Ballad of Ira Hayes' opgevoer het. La Farge, 'n voormalige rodeo -cowboy, dramaturg, akteur en marine -intelligensie -operateur, was ook die seun van die jare lange inheemse aktivis en romanskrywer Oliver La Farge, wat 'n Pulitzer -prys gewen het vir sy liefdesverhaal uit 1930 in die Navajo, 'Laughing Boy'. Die jonger La Farge het 'n interessante nis in die New York -herlewingstoneel uitgekap deur hom aan 'n enkele kwessie te wy. 'Pete het iets besonders en belangrik gedoen,' onthou die volksanger Pete Seeger. "Sy hart was in 'n stadium so toegewyd aan die inheemse Amerikaanse saak dat niemand regtig iets daaroor gesê het nie. Ek dink hy het dieper as ooit tevore gegaan."

Cash het nooit voorgegee dat musiek immuun kan bly vir sosiale nie, maar hy het sy bes probeer om 'nie in politiek te meng nie'. In plaas daarvan het hy gepraat oor die dinge wat ons verenig, soos die waardigheid van eerlike werk. 'As u 'n bakker was', het hy in 1970 aan die skrywer Christopher Wren gesê, 'en u het 'n brood gebak en dit het iemand gevoed, dan was u lewe die moeite werd. En as u 'n wewer was, het u lap en 'n lap wat iemand warm gehou het, was u lewe die moeite werd. "

Cash het grootgeword in armoede op die rand van Amerika, en het empatie gehad met buitestaanders soos gevangenes, armes en inheemse Amerikaners. Maar sy identifikasie met Indiërs was veral diep - selfs dwaalleer. Gedurende die dieptes van sy vroeë 60's dwelmmisbruik het hy homself oortuig en aan ander gesê dat hy self 'n inheemse Amerikaner was, met Cherokee- en Mohawk -bloed. (Hy sou later hierdie bewering herroep.)

By die Gaslight, toe hy geluister het na 'Ira Hayes' en La Farge se ander Indiese proteswysies, insluitend 'Solank die gras sal groei' en 'Custer', was Cash vasgevang. 'Johnny wou meer as 'n heuwelring,' Peter La Farge sou later skryf oor die ontmoeting met Cash at the Gaslight. 'Hy was honger na die diepte en waarheid wat slegs in die volksveld gehoor word (ten minste totdat Johnny bykom). Die geheim is eenvoudig, Johnny het die hart van 'n volksanger in die suiwerste sin. "Trouens, Cash het in 1957 'n eie Indiese protesballade geskryf." Ek het 'Old Apache Squaw' geskryf, 'verduidelik Cash later aan Seeger . "Toe vergeet ek die sogenaamde protesliedjie vir 'n rukkie. Dit lyk asof niemand anders vir die Indiër met 'n volume of stem [tot Peter La Farge] praat nie. "

Kontant, soos baie in die sestigerjare, kon sien dat alles wat seker, styf en hard was, uitmekaar was. Sosiale bewegings het floreer. Maar die donderende Amerikaanse koor wat "We Shall Overcome" en "We Shall All Be Free" sing, verdrink die kreet van die losbandige inheemse beweging. Aangesien Martin Luther King en ander leiers hul mense na wetgewende oorwinnings gestuur het wat hulle verder sou integreer in 'n samelewing waaruit hulle geblokkeer was, wou die toenemende gety van inheemse jeugaktiviste iets anders hê.

'In my gedagtes kon inheemse mense nie 'n burgerregtebeweging hê nie,' sê die Amerikaanse Indiese Bewegingsaktivis en musikant John Trudell. "Die burgerregte -kwessie was tussen die swartes en die blankes, en ek het dit nooit as 'n burgerregtelike kwessie vir ons beskou nie. Hulle het ons probeer mislei om burgerregte te aanvaar, maar Amerika het 'n regsverantwoordelikheid om aan die verdragswetlike ooreenkomste te voldoen. As jy na burgerregte kyk, sê jy basies 'goed behandel ons soos jy die res van jou burgers behandel'. Ek beskou dit nie as 'n klim omhoog nie. " In plaas van die assimilasie in die Amerikaanse stelsel na te streef, wou inheemse Amerikaanse aktiviste hul greep op soewereiniteit en die klein grond wat hulle nog besit, behou.

Teen die vroeë 60's probeer die ontluikende National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) sy eie aanspraak maak op hul gelyke deel van die reg. Met die uitbreiding van die oortredings van die visverdrag en die verbreking van twee groot landverdrae wat gelei het tot die verlies van duisende hektaar stamgrond in die staat New York vir die Tuscarora en Allegany Seneca (die verhaal agter La Farge se "Solank die gras moet" Grow "), het die NIYC, gelei deur inheemse aktiviste soos Hank Adams, gereageer deur die sit-in-protes aan te pas. Die NIYC, wat herdoop is as die "vis-in", betwis die ontkenning van verdragsregte deur vis te vang in stryd met die staatsreg. Inskrywings is gehou in New York en die noordweste van die Stille Oseaan.

Die vis-in-taktiek het gehelp om openbare steun te bou, maar dit het min gedoen om die oortredings van die verdrag te stop. In plaas daarvan het die Amerikaanse regering sy pogings verskerp om die momentum wat die inheemse beweging opgebou het, te onderdruk. Hulle taktiek was dikwels brutaal en gewelddadig. 'Dit was die tyd van Selma en daar was baie onrus in die land', onthou Bill Frank Jr. van die Nisqually -stam in die staat Washington. "Die kongres het 'n paar groot wetstoepassingsprogramme befonds, en hulle het allerhande opleidings gekry, sowel as helms. Hulle het nuwe bote gekry. Hierdie ouens het 'n begroting gehad. Dit was 'n oorlog."

Teen 1964 het die inheemse Amerikaanse saak die belangstelling van 'n ander beroemdheid getrek. Op 2 Maart het die NIYC nasionale aandag gekry toe die akteur Marlon Brando by 'n visvang in Washington aangesluit het. Reeds 'n uitgesproke voorstander van die burgerregtebeweging, Brando se baie openbare steun en die daaropvolgende arrestasie vir die vang van salm "onwettig" in Puyalluprivier, het die inheemse beweging 'n hupstoot gegee. Brando se betrokkenheid by die inheemse saak het begin toe hy met D'Arcy McNickle in aanraking gekom het nadat hy die boek "The Surrounded" van Flathead Indian gelees het, 'n kragtige roman wat die reservaatlewe in 1936 uitbeeld. Sy FBI -lêer, vol memo's wat die moontlike maniere van stilmaak van die akteur beskryf, het vinnig tot meer as 100 bladsye gegroei.

Drie dae na Brando se inhegtenisneming in Washington, het Cash, die nuutste van sy grootste sukses in sy loopbaan, die enkelsnit "Ring of Fire", en pas die opname van 'n baie kommersiële album, "I Walk the Line", begin met die opname van 'n ander, baie verskillende album. Toe Cash aan die einde van die vyftigerjare Sun Studios na Columbia verlaat, het hy geglo dat sy opkomende ster hom die kreatiewe kapitaal sou gee om iets buite die pop- en country -hoofstroom te vervaardig en op te neem - albums van volksmusiek en konserte in die tronk. Hy het folk-albums soos 'Blood Sweat and Tears', 'n viering van die werkende man, afgewissel met kommersiële skywe vol radio-gereed enkelsnitte. 'Ring of Fire', wat nommer 1 op die country -kaarte bereik het en na pop oorgegaan het, het hom die toestemming van Columbia gekoop om 'n album te maak van wat hy 'Indiese protesliedjies' noem.

In die twee jaar sedert Cash La Farge die eerste keer ontmoet het en na "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" geluister het, het Cash hom opgevoed oor inheemse Amerikaanse kwessies. 'John het regtig 'n groot deel van die geskiedenis nagevors,' onthou Johnny Western se jarelange emcee. 'Dit het begin met Ira Hayes.'

Soos Cash verduidelik: "Ek duik in primêre en sekondêre bronne en verdiep my in die tragiese verhale van onder meer die Cherokee en die Apache totdat ek amper so rou soos Peter was. Teen die tyd dat ek die album opneem, het ek 'n swaar baie hartseer en verontwaardiging. ”

Maar Cash voel 'n besondere verwantskap met Ira Hayes. Beide mans het in die weermag gedien as 'n manier om hul lewens van plattelandse armoede te ontvlug en daarna nuwe geleenthede te skep. Boonop het albei aan verslawingsprobleme gely Cash en sy pille en Hayes met alkohol. Hy het besluit om die album te anker met "The Ballad of Ira Hayes." En aangesien die liedjie die vonk vir Cash se visie verskaf het, het dit net reg gevoel dat hy meer moes leer oor die onderwerp van die liedjie.

Cash het Ira Hayes se ma gekontak en daarna haar en haar gesin besoek by die Pima -reservaat in Arizona. Voordat Cash die Pima -reservaat verlaat het, het Hayes se ma 'n geskenk aan hom gegee, 'n gladde, swart deurskynende klip. Die Pima noem dit 'n 'Apache -traan'. Die legende agter die ondeursigtige vulkaniese swart glas is gewortel in die laaste Amerikaanse kavalerie -aanval op inheemse mense, wat op Apaches in die staat Arizona plaasgevind het. Na die slagting het die soldate geweier dat die Apache -vroue die dooies op stelte opsit, 'n heilige Apache -tradisie. Volgens die legende, deur intense hartseer, het Apache -vroue vir die eerste keer ooit trane gestort, en die trane wat op die aarde geval het, het swart geword. Kontant, beweeg deur die geskenk, het die klip geslyp en op 'n goue ketting aangebring.

Met die Apache -traan om sy nek gehardloop, sny Cash sy protesalbum. Hy het vyf van La Farge se liedjies opgeneem, twee van sy eie, en een wat hy saam met Johnny Horton geskryf het. Almal was inheemse Amerikaanse tema. "Toe ons terug is in die ateljee om op te neem wat 'Bitter Tears' geword het," sê die kontant -baskitaarspeler Marshall Grant, "kon ons sien dat John regtig 'n spesiale gevoel vir hierdie plaat en hierdie liedjies het."

Tog het die album se eerste enkelsnit, "Ira Hayes," nêrens heen gekom nie. Min radiostasies sou die liedjie speel. Was die lengte van die liedjie, vier minute en sewe sekondes, die probleem? Radiostasies hou van snitte van drie minute. Of dalk wou skyfjoggies dat Cash 'vermaak, nie opvoed nie', soos 'n uitvoerende bestuurder van Columbia dit stel.

'Ek weet dat baie mense in Johnny Cash nie in' Bitter Tears 'was nie,' verduidelik Dick Weissman, 'n volkssanger, voormalige lid van die Journeymen en vriend van La Farge. 'Hulle wou 'n' Ballad of Teenage Queen 'hê, nie' The Ballad of Ira Hayes 'nie. Hulle wou 'Folsom -gevangenis' hê. Hulle wou nie liedjies hê oor hoe Amerikaners mishandel word nie. "

Die stasies sou nie die liedjie speel nie en Columbia Records het geweier om dit te bevorder. Volgens John Hammond, die legendariese vervaardiger en Cash -kampioen wat by Columbia gewerk het, het bestuurders by die etiket net nie gedink dat dit kommersiële potensiaal het nie. Billboard, die tydskrif vir die musiekbedryf, sou dit nie beoordeel nie, alhoewel Cash op die hoogtepunt van sy roem was, en pas 'n ander country -enkelsnit met 'Understand Your Man' en country -album nr. 1 met 'I' behaal het Loop op die lyn. "

Een redakteur van 'n country -musiektydskrif het geëis dat Cash uit die Country Music Association moet bedank omdat "jy en jou skare net te intelligent is om met gewone country -mense, country -kunstenaars en country -DJ's te gesels." Johnny Western, 'n DJ, sanger en akteur wat jare lank deel was van Cash se road show, herinner aan 'n gesprek met ''n baie gewilde en kragtige DJ.' Volgens Western was die DJ "verbind met baie van die musiekverenigings en ander invloedryke groepe in die opnamebedryf. Hy het John altyd ongelooflik ondersteun." Western en die DJ het die nuwe album van Cash en die enkelsnit van "Ira Hayes" begin bespreek. "Hy het my gevra hoekom John hierdie plaat gemaak het. Ek het vir hom gesê dat John en ons almal 'n goeie gevoel vir die Amerikaanse Indiese saak het. Hy het geantwoord dat hy voel dat die musiek in sy gedagtes nie-Amerikaans is en dat hy het nooit die plaat op die lug gespeel nie en het ander DJ's en radiostasies sterk aangeraai om dieselfde te doen. Ignoreer dit net totdat John tot sy reg gekom het, het hy vir my gesê. "

"Toe John aangeval word vir 'Ira Hayes' en daarna 'Bitter Tears'," verduidelik Marshall Grant, "het dit hom net uitmekaar geruk. Hayes is gedwing om te drink deur die mishandeling en behandeling van wit mense wat hom gebruik en verlaat het. Vir ons Dit beteken dat Hayes gemartel word, en dit is die storie wat ons vertel het en dit is waar. ”

Toe "Bitter Tears" en sy enkelsnit nie die aandag kry wat hy voel hulle verdien nie, dring Cash daarop aan om die laaste woord te hê. Hy het 'n brief aan die hele platebedryf opgestel en op 22 Aug. 1964 in 'n advertensie van 'n volledige bladsy in Billboard geplaas.

"D.J.'s - stasiebestuurders - eienaars, ens.", Vra Cash, "Waar is jou ingewande?" Hy verwys na sy eie veronderstelde half Cherokee- en Mohawk -erfenis en praat van die rekord as 'n onvervulde waarheid. "Hierdie lirieke neem ons terug na die waarheid. Jy het reg! Tienermeisies en Beatle -platekopers wil nie hierdie hartseer verhaal van Ira Hayes hoor nie. Hierdie liedjie is nie van 'n onbesonge held nie." Cash het die platebedryf gekap vir sy lafhartigheid, "Ongeag die handelsgrafieke - die kategorisering, klassifikasie en beperkings van lugspeel, dit is nie 'n country -lied nie, nie soos dit verkoop word nie. Dit is egter 'n goeie rede vir die darmlose [ Cash se klem] om 'n duim vas te druk. "

Cash eis dat die bedryf sy weerstand teen sy enkelspel verduidelik. "Ek moes terugveg toe ek besef dat soveel stasies bang is vir Ira Hayes. Net een vraag: HOEKOM." En toe antwoord Cash vir hulle. "'Ira Hayes' is 'n sterk medisyne. So ook Rochester, Harlem, Birmingham en Viëtnam."

Soos Cash later verduidelik het, "het ek gepraat oor hulle in betekenisloosheid en hul gebrek aan visie vir ons musiek wou wankel. Dit het my voorspelbaar genoeg op meer plekke as wat dit my opgedoen het, uit die lug gehaal." Maar in werklikheid, soos Cash in sy brief opgemerk het, verkoop "Ira Hayes" reeds baie country -treffers. Uiteindelik, deels te danke aan die aggressiewe promosie deur Cash, wat die liedjie persoonlik bevorder het na platejoggies wat hy geken het, bereik "Ira Hayes" nommer 3 op die country -enkelsnitlys en "Bitter Tears" bereik 'n hoogtepunt van 2 op die album -kaarte.

Later, lank na 'Bitter Tears', en nadat hy sy stryd met dwelms gewen het, sou Cash sy aansprake op Indiese afkoms terugskakel. Maar hy het nooit afgewyk van sy steun aan die inheemse saak nie. Hy het ook voordelevertonings gehou oor besprekings - insluitend die Sioux -bespreking by Wounded Knee in 1968, vyf jaar voor die gewapende afwyking tussen die FBI en die Amerikaanse Indiese Beweging - om geld in te samel vir skole, hospitale en ander kritieke hulpbronne deur die regering ontken. In 1980 het Cash aan 'n verslaggewer gesê: 'Ons het na Wounded Knee gegaan voor Wounded Knee II [die 1973 -stryd] om 'n vertoning te doen om geld in te samel om 'n skool aan die Rosebud Indian Reservation te bou' en 'n film te maak vir 'Public Broadcasting System called 'Trail of Tears.' 'Hy het saam met medemusikante Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson en Robbie Robertson gesmeek om 'n beroep op die vrylating van die gevangenis AIM -leier Leonard Peltier.

Sedert Cash die eerste keer "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" in 1964 opgeneem het, het baie musikante hul eie weergawes opgeneem. Kris Kristofferson is een van die musikante. Hy gee 'n opsomming van die gees agter Cash se nou byna vergete protesalbum in sy lofrede vir Cash, wat in 2003 oorlede is. medemens. ” Vier jaar voor sy beroemde konsert in die Folsom -gevangenis, vier jaar voordat die Amerikaanse Indiese Beweging ontstaan ​​het, en op die hoogtepunt van sy kommersiële sukses, dring Cash daarop aan om 'n nie -kommersiële, diep persoonlike protesrekord op te stel wat tot 'n einde kon kom. Hy sal dit altyd koester. 'Ek is nog steeds besonder trots op' Bitter Tears ',' sou Cash aan die einde van sy lewe sê terwyl hy praat oor die aktuele musiek wat hy in die 1960's opgeneem het. "Behalwe dat die Viëtnam -oorlog verby is, sien ek nie veel rede om vandag my standpunt te verander nie. Die ou mense word steeds verwaarloos, die armes is steeds arm, die jongmense sterf nog voor hulle tyd, en ons maak niks beweeg om dinge reg te stel. Daar is nog baie duisternis om weg te dra. " 


Waarhede van die driehoek

Vivian skryf ook oor die pyn om te hoor hoe June in onderhoude beweer dat sy Johnny se dogters grootmaak. Sy beweer ook dat June Carter 'n dwelmverskaffer vir Johnny was, bygedra het tot sy verslawing en ook 'n verslaafde was. Waar die absolute waarheid in al hierdie leuens waarskynlik begrawe is: Die drie punte van die liefdesdriehoek wat direk daaroor kan praat, is almal dood - June Carter en Johnny Cash is in 2003 dood.

Johnny Cash het die boek geseën en sou vermoedelik die voorwoord skryf voordat hy oorlede is.

Maar sy vingerafdrukke is oraloor. Die meeste van hierdie ongewone memoires is eintlik geskryf deur die Man in Black-ten volle 75 persent van die boek van 320 bladsye is liefdesbriewe wat hy aan Vivian geskryf het terwyl hy 'n lugmagdiensman was van 1951 tot 1954 in Duitsland. ontmoet op 'n rolskaatsbaan in haar tuisdorp San Antonio en het 'n warrelwind van drie weke lank romanse gehad voordat hy na Europa gestuur het.

Sharpsteen het gesê dat sy en Vivian byna 10 000 bladsye liefdesbriewe gesif het wat die twee vir mekaar geskryf het terwyl hulle uitmekaar was.

Vivian se suster Sylvia Flye, wat sommige van die boek gelees het, het gesê dat sy 'n rede het om soveel liefdesbriewe op te neem.

"Die fliek, sowel as artikels, het Johnny en June uitgebeeld as hierdie liefdesverhaal van die eeu," het Flye, 'n voormalige inwoner wat nou in Tulare woon, gesê. "Sy wou ook wys dat hulle (sy en Johnny) 'n groot liefde het. Sy wou vir mense wys dat sy nie die ogre was nie."

Alhoewel Vivian die fliek nooit gesien het nie, was sy wel bewus daarvan, sê vriende, dat sy onvleuelend uitgebeeld word, amper soos 'n kranksinnige.

Die slotgedeelte van die boek, waarin Vivian baie openlik is oor die driehoek, het wenkbroue onder haar vriende laat lig. Alhoewel Vivian sommige van hulle vertrou het, was sy 'n privaat soort wat gewoonlik net oor Johnny gepraat het as ander dit aan die lig gebring het.

Die laaste deel "was vir my baie verhelderend," het Suzanne Dunn van Oxnard gesê. Helen Boyd van Ventura het gesê Vivian het haar 'n paar dinge vertel, maar het bygevoeg: "Dit was nie haat of gif of iets dergeliks nie. En sy het nie vyandig gepraat oor June Carter nie."

Die jarelange vriendin Cynthia Burell het opgemerk dat Vivian dit nie maklik kon deurmaak nie, en dit was ook moeilik om dit so lank terug te hou.

'Dit is iets wat sy al jare by haar het,' sê Burell, 'n voormalige stadskantoor in Ojai en direkteur van finansies wat nog steeds daar woon. "Dit is baie seer as iemand anders sê dat hulle haar vier dogters grootmaak, sy het die dogters grootgemaak. Om oor die hoof gesien te word, was baie seer, dit sou vir iemand seergemaak het. En in haar situasie was dit erger omdat hy 'n baie publieke persoon was. figuur."

Dit het haar seergemaak, het Cindy Cash gesê. Oor hierdie onderwerp was haar ma gefrustreerd en 'voel sy onsigbaar'. Sy wou, sê Cindy, 'om uiteindelik, uiteindelik 'n stem te hê.'

Vivian en Johnny Cash trou op 7 Augustus 1954 in San Antonio, Texas, haar tuisdorp, 'n bietjie meer as 'n maand na sy terugkeer uit die lugmag in Europa. (Foto: met vergunning van Scribner)


Die ikoniese liefdesverhaal van Johnny Cash en June Carter

Van sy nommer 1 -treffer "I Walk the Line" in 1956 tot die ikoniese "Folsom Prison Blues", baie het Johnny Cash deur die jare geken en liefgehad. Geen liefde lyk egter so groot soos die liefde wat die sanger/liedjieskrywer June Carter vir kontant gehad het tydens hul lang jare saam nie.

Sowel Johnny Cash as June Carter was bekende kunstenaars voordat hulle ontmoet het. Carter was deel van haar ma en suster se musiekgroep, wat uiteindelik die Carter Sisters en Mother Maybelle was. Daarna het sy solo -musiek gemaak en saam met vriend en ster, Elvis Presley, getoer. Cash was destyds 'n suksesvolle solo -kunstenaar.

Johnny Cash en June Carter Cash

Volgens The Boot het die ikoniese paartjie mekaar ontmoet agter die verhoog in die Grand Ole Opry na 'n Elvis -konsert in 1956. Presley had told Carter about Johnny Cash prior, having made her listen to his songs on a jukebox multiple times.

Despite both being married at the time of meeting, Cash was immediately smitten with Carter after introducing himself. Although June did not fall as quickly for Johnny as he did for her, the connection was undeniable. She eventually had to admit the attraction and is quoted in saying, “I think I’m falling in love with Johnny Cash, and this is the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” as reported by Groovy History.

Johnny Cash and June Carter

She then described it as being “in a ring of fire,” which inspired the writing of “Ring of Fire,” a song later appearing on both of the artists’ albums.

Cash was unashamed in the fact that he’d been absolutely infatuated with June from the beginning, and knew that although he was married, he and June Carter were meant to be together.

In the first 13 years of their relationship, Cash had attempted to make Carter his wife multiple times, and each time she denied him. Finally in 1968, Cash and Carter were engaged and soon married.

Cash asked the important question at a live show in front of 7,000 fans when Carter finally accepted. Within weeks, on March 1, 1968, the two lovers officially tied the knot. They soon had their first child together, John Carter Cash, in 1970.

Johnny Cash and June Carter performing

As many are aware, Johnny Cash struggled with addiction for much of his life. His addiction got to the point that it was greatly intruding in his everyday life, making relationships difficult and eventually almost killing him.

Loving Johnny so strongly, June did what she could to help her husband and stood by his side through it all.

Cash continued to struggle with addiction, but he was far from ungrateful, stating, “She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself. She has saved my life more than once,” as she made him “forget the pain for a long time, many times.”

Not only did the famous duo find obstacles in Johnny’s addiction, but he is said to have had kept up outside affairs throughout their marriage, which was implied in a book written by their son later on after their deaths.

Cash’s infidelity led to a troubled wife. The public was well aware of Johnny Cash’s addictions, but Carter developed a problem with abusing prescription medications, which was also talked about in John Carter Cash’s book, as stated by Reuters. She was constantly paranoid that her husband was not staying faithful.

Many obstacles were placed in front of Johnny and June Carter Cash, but this only proved the love that they claimed to be unconditional and unwavering was real.

Johnny Cash and June Carter had both been married before their own marriage in 1968. Despite this, the two lived out the rest of their lives together, keeping up a both passionate and painful marriage for 35 years.

Carter passed in 2003 from surgery complications. Johnny Cash and their children were at her side. He gave a statement dedicated to his love, June Carter Cash, during his last performance just months before his own death the same year.

Before performing “Ring of Fire,” he explained that he was being overshadowed by the spirit of his late wife, and that she was there “to give [him] courage and inspiration like she always has.” Cash himself passed four months after Carter, also from health complications.

Johnny Cash performing in Bremen, West Germany, in September 1972. Photo by Heinrich Klaffs CC BY-SA 2.0

As one of the most beloved couples in the industry, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s love lives on through their iconic duos and many albums recorded with each other.

The passion that burned between them will always be present in their heartfelt and truthful lyrics written and performed for one another.


How hate groups tried (and failed) to co-opt popular culture

J ohnny Cash was a troubled man, but a sensitive one. His music championed those that society had let down, the outcasts and jailbirds, and extended to them a solemn compassion. And because he laid claim to the outlaw persona in a way that few other artists could, one can almost see why a movement as obsessed with outsiderism as the “alt-right” might place him on a pedestal.

But when Cash’s descendants saw one of the neo-Nazi demonstrators at Charlottesville sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the musician’s name on the news, they felt his message had been severely misappropriated. Cash’s family stated that they were “sickened by the association” in an emotional open letter that describes the late artist as “a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice”. The fascists-in-training that have aligned under the alt-right banner have shown a distinct imperviousness to outside criticism, but getting called “poison” by one of their idol’s representatives must sting a bit more than most.

It’s just the latest instance of a hostile odd angle forming between the hate-fueled political fringe groups edging into the spotlight and the ideologically inconsistent pop culture they claim anyway. As organizations that were once punchlines attract more attention from the media and public, the music and visual media upon which they’ve hung their message has been subject to more scrutiny. And on plenty of occasions, the responsible artists have caught wind and had to publicly swear off association with the burgeoning culture of white-power extremism.

This most recent spike in cognitive dissonance ramped up as Donald Trump muscled his way into the presidential race over the course of 2016. He had a difficult time holding on to a single walk-on anthem for his many campaign rallies, as every time a clip would begin to circulate online, the news would inevitably come out that the band in question had never granted permission for their songs to be used in the first place. The Rolling Stones, Twisted Sister and REM are only a few of the groups that have demanded the Trump campaign cease and desist from playing their music. (REM candidly shot back: “Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you – you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”)

But while it’s simple enough to threaten legal action against official political entities, a band can’t control what protesters choose to chant or write on their signs. Matters have grown messier as neo-Nazi groups adopt works of art in less official capacities, placing artists in a tough position that can’t allow for silence. After inflammatory public speaker and frequent punching bag Richard Spencer mentioned that he considered Depeche Mode the “official band” of the alt-right, the group promptly released a contradicting statement and the fanbase raised an accompanying outcry. In one of the more surreal instances of this tut-tutting from on high, horror godhead John Carpenter had to explicitly state that his cult classic They Live should not be interpreted as a commentary on a Jewish conspiracy to control the banks and media.

And yet the trouble persists that for those in search of a pop-culture slate on which to project Zionist paranoia, They Live works pretty well. Alt-right types and their unsavory brethren are drawn to narratives about reorienting perception of reality, regardless of the espoused politics that undergird them. Consider the rich, profound irony that the online anti-feminist subculture known as “the Red Pill” derives their name from The Matrix, a work of art created by two trans women. In its way, this rash of misappropriations acts as the ultimate rebuttal to the notion of authorial intent. The fascists inexplicably glomming onto ‘80s-influenced electronic music referred to as “fashwave” didn’t need Swedish producer Robert Parker’s approval to make him their champion, and his protestations haven’t done much to put them off it.

It wasn’t so long ago that Ayn Rand-memorizing objectivists were twisting the moral content of The Incredibles to suit their dogmatic purposes. The stakes in the present day are significantly higher, however, as this period of great upheaval that has already claimed a body count. Real life no longer allows artists the luxury of neutrality refraining to condemn the white-power groups after they’ve contaminated one of your works sounds a lot like condoning to the public’s ears. Matt Furie, the originator of the memetic cartoon frog “Pepe” that the alt-right has selected as their proud mascot of bigotry, joined forces with the Anti-Defamation League to undo that cultural shift and return the image to its peaceable, hate-free roots.

The elasticity of open interpretation is one of the qualities that makes art art, and yet on occasion, that same right to take-it-as-you-will results in some serious perversions of good intentions. The Nazi resorts to these messy magpie-like tendencies out of necessity the vast majority of history’s great artists have had the good sense to not be Nazis, leaving present-day fascists a small well to draw upon without looking elsewhere. (Naturally, the swastika was nicked from the Buddhists, Hindus and Jains in India, who interpreted it as a symbol of good luck.) But this gives artists the opportunity to turn an incident into a platform to speak out against intolerance while they’ve got the opposition’s ear. Furie’s case illustrates the best-case scenario of something as sickening as learning your creations have been used to spread hate while you had your back turned. It’s a challenge to do more and be better, to capitalize on a reluctant situation and pivot it into activism. As the cinema history books go, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels met with German film-maker Fritz Lang to express his fandom and explore the option of employing the director as the Third Reich’s official documenter. Jewish and horrified, Lang promptly fled for America and pushed back the only way he knew how: 1941’s Man Hunt opens with a telescopic sniper sight – and Hitler in the crosshairs.


Johnny Cash quotes about June

This morning, with her, having coffee.

(WHEN ASKED FOR HIS DEFINITION ABOUT PARADISE)

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.

There’s unconditional love there. You hear that phrase a lot, but it’s real with me and her.

She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself. She has saved my life more than once. She’s always been there with her love, and it has certainly made me forget the pain for a long time, many times.

You still fascinate and inspire me… You’re the object of my desire, the number one Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

We fell madly in love and we worked together all the time, and when the tour was over we both had to go home to other people. It hurt.

Because you are mine, I walk the line.

The taste of love is sweet when heart like ours meet.

We’re soulmates, friends and lovers, and everything else that makes a happy marriage. Our hearts are attuned to each other, and we’re very close.

When it gets dark and everybody’s gone home and the lights are turned off, it’s just me and her.

She’s the greatest woman I have ever known. Nobody else, except my mother, comes close.


White supremacists attacked Johnny Cash for marrying a ‘Negro’ woman. But was his first wife Black?

On Oct. 4, 1965, country music star Johnny Cash was arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border after buying amphetamines and sedatives from a drug dealer in Juárez and stashing them in his guitar case. His long-suffering first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash, left their daughters in California and journeyed to El Paso to be by his side for the arraignment.

As Vivian stood with Cash in front of the federal courthouse, wrapped in a dark coat, her eyes downcast beneath her bouffant hairdo, a newspaper photographer snapped a picture. In the image, Vivian, whose father was of Sicilian heritage and whose mother was said to be of German and Irish descent, appeared to be Black.

At that time in the eyes of most Americans, you were either Black or you weren’t. Interracial marriage would not become legal nationally until 1967, and it would be considered anathema, particularly in the South, for years to come.

As the image of Johnny and Vivian began appearing in publications across the country, white supremacists went wild.

Leaders of the racist National States’ Rights Party in Alabama ran a story in their newspaper “The Thunderbolt” with the headline: “Arrest Exposes Johnny Cash’s Negro Wife.”

“Money from the sale of [Cash’s] records goes to scum like Johnny Cash to keep them supplied with dope and negro women,” the paper warned. The story also mentioned the couple’s “mongrelized” young children, which included future country star Rosanne Cash and her younger sisters, Kathy, Cindy and Tara. The organization, which was connected to the Ku Klux Klan, then launched a fierce boycott against the famous musician that lasted over a year.

Cash’s handlers quickly launched a counterattack, filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and soliciting testimonials from relatives and friends attesting to Vivian’s racial background. They included Vivian’s designation as Caucasian on her marriage certificate and a list of the Whites-only schools she had attended.


'Where Are Your Guts?': Johnny Cash’s Little-Known Fight for Native Americans

In 1964, Johnny Cash released a Native American-themed concept album, “Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.” In an incredible but little-known story, Cash faced censorship and backlash for speaking out on behalf of native people — and he fought back.

A new documentary airing this month on PBS, “Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears,” tells the story of the controversy. For the album’s 50th anniversary, it was re-recorded with contributions from musicians including Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris, and the documentary also chronicles the making of the new album.

ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Stephen Pevar, author of “The Rights of Indians and Tribes,” had a chance to ask writer/director Antonino D’Ambrosio about the film.

Why did you feel it was important to make this film, and what were you hoping to accomplish?

First and foremost, the film and the story it tells deals with the movement for civil rights and, even more deeply, human rights. There is a tendency in this country to think that these movements are a thing of the past and, coming out of the 1960s in particular, that they were somehow addressed and resolved with everyone living happily ever after.

In werklikheid is die teenoorgestelde waar. These movements never cease, and it’s important to be reminded that this is indeed the case. A truly democratic society requires participation and hard work in regard to ensuring that human and civil rights are protected, uplifted, and always expanded. The movement never ends. This is most especially true for native people, who have become entirely invisible even though their issues — treaty rights, sovereignty, etc. — remain continuously under siege.

The current Supreme Court, for example, is no friend of native people and their treaty rights, even though treaty law is one of the five principle areas of U.S. law. They have shown a willingness, and perhaps an eagerness, to take up cases that violate treaty laws in what amounts to illegal land grabs, a tried-and-true historical tactic that I reveal in the film. After all, many thousands of acres of native land — a sovereign country —are seen by some with a singular interest: rich for exploitation of natural resources and ultimately for development.

Additionally, there are a few things I hoped to achieve with this film. I wanted to provide much-needed illumination surrounding the native plight within a historical and cultural context, but I also wanted to bring forward a powerful creative response from the past that very much speaks to our present and future.

Johnny Cash’s decision to place himself squarely in the middle of the fervent social upheavals of the time was not taken lightly. Cash immersed himself in the issues surrounding the native movement using the penetrating songwriting of little-known folksinger Peter La Farge, who was the first singer signed by iconic producer John Hammond to Columbia Records, who would sign Bob Dylan six months later. La Farge’s music spoke directly to the human condition in a way, as musician Bill Miller says in the film, as “being truthful, and powerful, and poetic in a modern world. And Johnny Cash comes in and takes it, and makes it fly, and gave it wings.” It’s a reminder that even though the specific details of our lives may be different, we all share life’s outline. It’s a demand that we all accept our responsibility as citizens of the world and participate in making that world work better for everyone.

What motivated Johnny Cash to make the album?

Since the very beginning of his career in 1954-1955, Cash wanted to make a concept record dedicated to the struggle of native people, which I explore in great detail in my book, “A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears.” His great motivation comes simply from his early life growing up with native people in Arkansas. His family's terrible struggle with poverty and deprivation was abated a bit thanks to the New Deal program of resettlement, which provided the Cash family a plot of land to live on and farm in Dyess Colony Resettlement Area in Mississippi County, Arkansas.

Cash saw the dire contrast to what his family was able to experience and that of the native people around him, who were living in near squalor and destitution — thanks in large part to the failure of the U.S. government to honor treaties. Also, for a long period he aligned himself so closely to native people that he often claimed to be native, which he wasn’t and refuted much later in his life. It really came down to a clear, basic mantra for Cash: If any group of people face injustice and are denied their rights, then there is no freedom or justice for any of us. In the letter, Cash made it clear: “I would sing more of this land but all of God’s children ain’t free.”

What was the extent of the resistance to the album when it was released? Were any stations playing it?

This was 1964. The country was white hot with unrest. The looming presidential election was contentious and filled with often abominable, dangerous rhetoric. For example, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate, spoke openly of inciting nuclear war when he proclaimed, “Let's lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin.” He also strongly opposed civil rights, asserting, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

This fraught political environment filled the executive suites at Cash’s label and programming booths of many radio stations with fear. While Columbia honored the contract to ship a minimal amount of records for sale, they undertook a type of “soft censorship” where they did no promotion and just ignored its existence. And of course, many radio stations just refused to play it. When Cash learned of all the opposition, he made it his mission to get the record out there. He bought back thousands of copies of the record, penned a protest letter that he placed as an ad in “Billboard” magazine, stuffed the letter inside each record, and traveled around the country hand delivering the record to radio stations and asking them to give it a chance. A line from the opening paragraph from the letter says it all: “DJs, station managers, owners, etc., where are your guts?”

Photo credit: From Antonino D’Ambrosio’s film, Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears

What was behind the record companys actions? Did they or the radio station owners ever explain themselves?

Columbia Records just wanted the hits to keep coming. In 1963, Cash had massive hits with “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire.” They saw Cash’s attempts at concept records as money losers, even vainglorious indulgences even though the label promised Cash that when he joined Columbia that he could explore the ambitious recordings he was blocked from producing while at Sun Records. It was this promise that allowed them to sign him in the first place. And along the way, Cash pioneered concept records years before The Beatles got the credit. As musician Steve Earle explains in the film, “I never didn’t know who Johnny Cash was, but I didn’t realize until I was grown that Johnny Cash was making concept albums like 15 years before The Beatles ever thought about it.”

After the massive hits of 1963, the label could no longer stall Cash’s efforts to finally record a native concept record comprised entirely of folk protest songs. This was essentially a decade in the making for Cash, and he poured all of himself into it, explaining: “I dove into primary and secondary sources, immersing myself in the tragic stories of the Cherokee and the Apache, among others, until I was almost as raw as Peter. By the time I actually recorded the album I carried a heavy load of sadness and outrage.”

And that outrage only grew when he learned that radio stations across the country refused to play the record. Again, this was the height of the civil rights movement and many in the record industry, particularly in the South and Midwest, couldn’t accept Cash adding his voice to the protest. Some felt he was co-opted by the Northeast liberal intelligentsia, others by the left-leaning folk movement, and others just didn’t like the music and its theme of native issues, a people they deemed to be lower than Black people.

To what extent was Johnny Cash's career hurt by the album?

It was mixed. On a personal level, he was bitterly disappointed by the opposition to the record. It’s one of the reasons that he always played a few of the songs from the record at every concert the rest of his life. It was Cash’s ongoing protest. On a creative level, the label made it very difficult for him to ever undertake a record of this kind again — even though he broke out with his live album “At Folsom Prison” four years later in 1968, which was the year that the American Indian Movement was born. But it was not an entire record held together by a theme and a narrative, with every song dedicated to a specific social justice issue. Essentially, “Bitter Tears” would be the last record of that kind Cash would ever do. Yet, this record revealed the true courage of an artist thinking out loud and telling painfully real stories that paved the way for Cash to do other protest songs such as “Man in Black” years later.

Cash refused to endure what he deemed as a cowardly censoring and suppressing of his work. In sy Advertensiebord ad, he referenced the single from the album, a folk ballad written about the native U.S. marine Ira Hayes immortalized in the Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph. Cash wrote, “‘Ballad of Ira Hayes’ IS strong medicine. So is Rochester — Harlem — Birmingham and Vietnam. I had to fight back.” He saw it as one movement: human rights. Rosanne Cash told me this was a lesson. It still is.

Photo credit: Sony Masterworks

How would you compare the reception of the re-recording with the release of the original?

The reception for the re-recording, “Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited,” was also mixed. Recently, Sony Masterworks’ Chuck Mitchell and I half-jokingly discussed that in some ways this new record suffered the same fate as the original, which is another reason that the reception of the film at festivals around the world and now by PBS has been so inspiring. In any creative endeavor, particularly one that is a creative response, there is always a chorus that wants to drown out the voices of those whose suffering has been buried to maintain the illusion that what was done to get here was noble and honorable. But we, as one people, are imbued with everything that has come before — that is our history. Those ghosts don’t remain in the past but rattle around us in the present waiting for someone to listen and to unleash their spirit so they can finally be heard. Many people, including those in indigenous communities here and abroad, have expressed that this project in some way heals and gives peace but also rouses action. And that has been quite humbling.

This album was released in 1964, when the civil rights movement for Black people was occurring. Many people might say that Black people have achieved more progress from their efforts than Native Americans have from theirs. Do you think this would be a good subject to explore in the future?

Ja. This film is the first in a series exploring these issues. And this particular historical moment seems to demand it with so much underway with regard to revising and erasing uncomfortable historical truths. I continue to work with many of the native artists, thinkers, advocates involved in the film and book and beyond to craft that next film and further amplify what remains muted.

The film ends by asking, “Why?” What do you think the answer is to that question?

Whenever you pull back the curtain on the spit-polished version of American history and reveal the bodies, the butchery, the spilled blood that led us here, there is always a backlash because power is built upon using and then crushing the dispossessed and marginalized, the groups first stomped on to attain power. We can see the insidiousness of this ideology all around us today in our politics and our culture. So for me, and I think many of the artists involved in this book, record, and film, it’s less about answering the question, “Why?”, and more about asking the uncomfortable, difficult questions not permitted to be asked: “Why not?” To deny history — our real history — prevents democracy from taking root and flourishing.

Photo credit: From Antonino D’Ambrosio’s film, Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears

There were nearly 400 Indian treaties, and nearly all of them were broken the way the Seneca Treaty was broken. Why did you happen to select that one?

In the history of this country, there is perhaps no more egregious, flagrant, and wanton abuse of law than that of treaty law by the U.S. government. And it was important for me that treaty law was explained. Both in how it was grossly violated and how it served as the heart of the native movement by distinguishing it from the civil rights movement.

In one of the most impactful and thoughtful interviews I conducted for my book, the late musician and American Indian Movement activist John Trudell explains:

“In my mind, the Indians could never have a civil rights movement. The civil rights issue was between the Blacks and the whites, our issue was around law. It was legal. There are five kinds of law in America: common law criminal law constitutional law statute law and treaty law. That’s important to note — treaty law is one of the five principal laws in America. The agreements that the United States made with the tribes were legal agreements. So our movement was based around treaty law and making sure these were upheld and not broken. This isn’t about morals and ethics — I mean, of course it is to a degree — but the United States has a legal responsibility to us. So in the end this is about the law.”

The Seneca Treaty is one of this country’s oldest treaties. I selected it because, as a subject for La Farge’s songwriting and Cash’s imaginative interpretation, it serves as a devastating metaphor for all treaty violations. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, grand public works projects were very popular — many of them were unnecessary boondoggles including the building of the Kinzua Dam on Seneca land in upstate New York. This was also a time where the terrible policy of termination was beginning to be used as a political weapon to undermine native sovereignty. Many engineers, land use experts, and esteemed journalists provided mountains of evidence that this dam was not only unwarranted but also a human rights and environmental catastrophe. New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, outraged by the patent land-grab, used his “Critic-at-Large” column to bring attention to the tyranny the Seneca faced. “For the moral question is one no one dares face: Is the Kinzua Dam right or wrong? It is wrong,” Atkinson wrote.

The song that chronicles all of this in the film is called “As Long As the Grass Shall Grow.” The title reveals everything, as it takes the language directly from the treaty: “as long as the grass shall grow and the waters flow…as long as the sun rises and sets” this treaty would stand, respected and protected, forever. It did not. Again, Trudell puts a fine point on it when he told me movingly: “If you’re a nation of laws, then you have to respect this. And if you don’t respect these treaties, then we get that you’re not really a nation of laws. It’s all about the rule, and if you don’t adhere to that then it’s all bullshit.”


The Airman in Black — when Johnny Cash was stationed in Germany

LANDSBERG, Germany — Many famous musicians have served in the armed forces, but it’s unlikely that any assignment to Europe influenced the history of rock ’n’ roll and country music as much as when Johnny Cash learned to play the guitar here.

At 19, Cash volunteered to join the Air Force during the Korean War. He left his native Arkansas for Texas to begin training, then spent most of his time in service stationed in Landsberg am Lech, in southern Bavaria, working as a Morse code interceptor.

The base at Landsberg, Germany, was the scene of heavy U.S. military activity in the decade following Word War II and was maintained into the 1980s. It is now a German air force base.

In 1951, unable to travel, away from friends and family and with only one phone call home allowed per year, the young Cash felt lonely and isolated from the world when he arrived in Landsberg, he would later say.

On the third day, when Cash saw the documentary “Inside Folsom Prison” at the base theater, the film had a big impact on him and the music world. Afterward, he wrote the hit song “Folsom Prison Blues,” according to letters he sent back to his first wife, Vivian Liberto.

“He (Johnny Cash) was here against his will, with no friends, not able to leave. So when he saw this film, it struck him that ‘they are like me. We are all prisoners here,’ and it left an impression on him that stuck with him his whole life,” base historian Herbert Wintersohl said. “It was a very influential period of his life.”

As a radio interceptor, Cash worked in shifts and had a lot of time with not much to do, Wintersohl said. Thankfully for music, Cash bought a guitar in a local store off base and began learning to play. Cash eventually started his first band on base, called the “Landsberg Barbarians,” a play on the name of the base newspaper, the “Landsberg Bavarian.”

He played at events that would routinely pack the local officer club, Wintersohl said.

During his three years in Germany, Cash worked on many songs that would later become famous. He also met an airman who referred to his service-issued footwear as “blue suede shoes.” He suggested while on tour in 1955 with Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley that the description would make a good song.

When he was done with his Air Force tour in 1954, Cash returned to the United States and began the career that would have a lasting effect on both rock ’n’ roll and country music.

“Although he was only here (in Germany) for three years, it had a huge impact on who he became and, of course, the music that he became famous for,” Wintersohl said.


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