Johhny Cash Report
Submitted By shannelle19
History of Rock and Roll
The social scene and impact Johnny cash had on society during his life and musical career
During the life and musical career of Johnny Cash, which covered five decades, he has witnessed the transformation of a country that went through several changes in society over the years. Johnny Cash wrote his music based on real life experiences about his upbringing on a farm in Arkansas to his musical endeavors and a country that was struggling with change. While a young man working the fields with his parents, brothers and sisters, Johnny began to experience music from his mother beating time on the old Sears-Roebuck guitar, singing 'What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul’. Music was one of the ways the Cash family found escape from some of the hardship. Songs surrounded the young Johnny Cash, be it his mother's folk and hymn ballads, or the working music people sang out in the fields. Johnny, who first picked up the guitar at the age of 12, showed a love for the music that enveloped his life. Cash only took a few singing lessons in his early teens and that were all he needed. In 1950 Cash graduated high school and joined the air force. He was discharged in 1954 and settled in Memphis, Tennessee to begin his music career. In 1955 Cash records his first record “Hey Porter” with a five dollar guitar at Sun Records. 1956 the release of “Folsom Prison Blues” and his first big hit “I Walk The Line”. Cash became a member of the “Million Dollar Quartet” that included Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
During the 1950’s, the United States enters into the Korean War, the Immigration and Naturalization Act passes, racial segregation is ruled unconstitutional, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat, Alaska and Hawaii become states. Cash witnessed a song about a country changing. In the 1960’s Cash played on the road 300 nights a year. But the schedule and the pressures that faced him took a toll on his personal life. Drugs and alcohol were his frequent tour companions. Cash released “Ring of Fire” in 1963 and “Understand Your Man” in 1964. In 1966 he was arrested for smuggling amphetamines into the US across the Mexican border, and accidently starting a forest fire in Tennessee, which resulted in a near six-figure fine for the singer. "I took all the drugs there are to take, and I drank," Cash recalled. "Everybody said that Johnny Cash was through 'cause I was walkin' around town 150 pounds. I looked like walking death."
In 1968 he married June Carter and helped him clean up his life. In 1968 Cash won two Grammy Awards for the live album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. In 1969 Cash experienced an incredible turnaround; he began hosting The Johnny Cash Show, a TV variety series that showcased contemporary musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong. It also provided a forum for Cash to explore a number of social issues, too, tackling discussions that ranged from the war in Vietnam to prison reform to the rights of Native Americans. The 1960’s were the age of youth as 70 million children from the post-war baby boom became teenagers and young adults. The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life. College campuses became centers of debate and scenes of protest. The Civil Rights movement made great changes in society in the 1960's. The movement began peacefully, with Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael leading sit-ins and peaceful protests, joined by whites, particularly Jews. Malcolm X preached about Black Nationalism. The number of Hispanic Americans tripled during the decade and became recognized as an oppressed minority. American Indians, facing unemployment rates of 50% and a life expectancy only two-thirds that of whites began to assert themselves in the courts and in violent protests. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was amended to include gender, marijuana use sored, Woodstock took place, Bay of Pigs, the assignation of president Kennedy and the Vietnam Conflict began. Johnny Cash had plenty of material to write songs about during the decade.
In the 1970’s Cash's music career flourishing with the release of the hit singles "A Thing Called Love “and "One Piece at a Time". He crossed over into a new medium in 1972, when he made an acclaimed appearance in the movie, A Gunfight. He wrote scores in 1970 for Little Fauss and Big Hasly , and the TV movie The Pride of Jesse Hallam. In 1975 Cash published his first auto biography Man in Black which was a best seller. In the 1970’s the Major trends included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women's movement, a heightened concern for the environment, and increased space exploration. During this time the United State was still involved in Vietnam, President Nixon was impeached for water gate, the women’s movement was progressing, anti-war movements at college campuses, peace movement, Apollo 17, Roe v. Wade were just a few events that were taking place. Though the 1980’s and 1990’s Cash, while not producing the frequent run of hits that he once had, Cash continued to maintain a busy schedule. In 1980, Cash was accepted as the youngest member of the Country Music Association Hall of Fame. In 1987 he teamed up with former Sun Records' artists Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison to record the widely popular compilation The Class Of '55. In 1985 Cash recorded the album The Highwayman with Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. Billed as the Highwaymen, the quartet consistently toured throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing two more albums. Throughout this period of time Cash’s health problems and his continued battles with addiction, were taking its toll on his body. In 1983, he underwent abdominal surgery in Nashville to correct the problems caused by his years of amphetamine use. Following the operation, he checked himself into a rehab Clinic. In 1987, Cash again went under the knife, this time for heart surgery. Cash continued to push on and was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Cash released various recordings and in 1995 he attracted a new audience and a Grammy award in 1995 for best contemporary folk album. 2002 seen Cash release one of his final recordings which consisted of original and cover songs. In 2003 Johnny had dealt with the death of his beloved wife June Carter and during that year Cash recorded his final album before his death on September 12, 2003 from complications from diabetes. That final album was released on July 4, 2004 named American V: A Hundred Highways. In 2013, it was revealed that a new album from Cash had been found in the Columbia records archive that was never released. It was recorded in 1981 and 1984; its release date is scheduled for March 2014. Johnny Cash was a true music pioneer that lived through five decades of a changing nation and wrote music to depict those changing times as a growing nation. His music was from the heart and changed millions of people’s lives through the years of his life. His music was of a man that stood up against the system and represented for the poor, disadvantaged, the beaten down and the dead soldier. His music consisted of many levels that reflected his sadness and dark side of his soul that he went through so many times. His music will continue to inspire and will live on forever.
Johnny Cash. Bio.TrueStory@ biography.com
Johnny Cash Biography@ JohnnyCashonline.com