I watched For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville on my ABC app the other day. It had me tearing up. This is the nearest “city” to where I grew up. I mean when my grandfather was in the VA hospital my 7th grade year, we were up there practically every Sunday. It’s a very musical city. I’m never surprised to see buskers in Nashville. Other cities it’s kinda jarring. Nashville and maybe New Orleans, it’s organic. It’s got a bit of hero worship of the older generation going on, especially the surviving rebels. One of the lines from this documentary, from a songwriter that I can’t recall his name, he was talking about just watching Kris Kristofferson play, “He (Kristofferson) has erased better lines than I’ve ever written.” Kristofferson is quite a person. He’s actually best known in music circles for his songwriting. Most non-music-nerd people don’t realize he wrote Janis Joplin’s hit “Me & Bobby McGee.” He was also a Rhodes Scholar. He’s acted in movies. He’s made and sung his own records. I mean everyone will admit he doesn’t have the greatest voice, but there’s just that interesting quality about hearing the song from the original songwriter.
Thinking back if you watch the commentary on the movie Walk the Line when June Carter wrote “Ring of Fire.” She wrote it while falling in love with someone who was a bad bet for her. Johnny Cash made it famous, but it was June who wrote it about Johnny and it was such a personal song for June that for many years she couldn’t record it. Because at the time she wrote it, Johnny was in the thrall of drug addiction and still married to his first wife.
Another song by Johnny Cash that stands out for me is “Hurt” which was written, recorded and released by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. A quote from Trent was when he saw Cash’s video “It was like I lost my girlfriend.” “Hurt” was a 20 year old dealing with depression when recorded by Reznor. “Hurt” by Cash was an elder man looking back on a life lived both roughly and richly.