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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

15. Johnny Cash - Big River

Growing up in the Cortex household we had a limited choice of vinyl listening matter to choose from. Most people can state that their parents' record collection got them hooked on some critically acclaimed musical genre or artist, for instance Motown, Phillip Glass, Iggy Pop or Jimi Hendrix. Sadly for myself and Evlkeith Cortex, we had little more to choose from than The Tremeloes, The Baron Knights, Apache by the Shadows, A Girl called Dusty and variety of K-Tel bargain bin compilations from the seventies. In short Father Cortex put more importance on the price of a record than it's actual quality.

However, in this nightmarish collection was one saving grace; a scratched and battered copy of 'Live a Folsom Prison' by Johnny Cash which had somehow managed to inveigle its way into the collection. To be honest, I was never that keen at the time, but with so few options it was a massive improvement on listening to Hank Marvin strum his way through 'Apache' again. And at some point between then and now I actually started to like Johnny Cash.

Johnny sounded mean and tough for a Country singer. He played to prisons, sang about shooting people and used bad language in-between songs; what's not to like? Johnny wasn't the kind of Country singer that did line dancing, yodelling or wore a pantomime cowboy outfit; in the context of my Dad's record collection he was Johnny Rotten, Marilyn Manson or Ice Cube.

It's ironic that none of my favourite Cash tracks come from Folsom. I really love some of the darker songs on his later albums, but my all-time favourite has to be 'Big River' from 'Live at San Quentin. From the rumble of applause, "Hello I'm Johnny Cash, alright!" into the hell for leather tale river travel to its concluding guitar strums, the whole thing takes less than two minutes. But it's a better two minutes than most artists have even dreamt of creating and way better than anything the Baron Knights ever made.

1 comment:

  1. That's being a tad harsh on Father of Cortex. We had those couple of Sweet singles and don't forget those weird photo cards of seventies bands including Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (sound like characters from Where the Wild Things Are) so that would could at least gaze at some popular music combos, even if we couldn't listen to them.