Tuesday, September 14, 2004

NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?

In November of 1974, Hank Williams' first wife, Audrey Williams, put a hand-lettered sign out in her Nashville front yard that read "Garage Sale. Tour Buses Welcome. Souvenirs." She charged $2 admission to the garage sale. She was broke, but she still had some Hank totems to peddle. "I was married to a legend," Audrey said. "What else am I gonna do?"

The man in black whose legend lives on

Nice article but requires registration.

Cash’s most famous line, which might have been penned by Dostoevsky - if the Russian had been born of cotton-picking folks in Arkansas - came in Folsom Prison Blues, a song he wrote while stationed in Germany on his national service. Cash - a Morse code decrypter, who decoded the message that Stalin had died - had seen a documentary about Folsom Prison, and tried to imagine the world from the viewpoint of a remorseless killer who had murdered for the worst possible reason: "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."

By the end, singing was all he did. The force of his baritone had dwindled, but such was the richness of the Cash persona that his frailty seemed profound. Everything became Biblical, whether it was pop, rock or bubble gum. He was reaching for humility and scenting decay.

On last year’s Unearthed boxed set, he delivers many epitaphs. To take just one: "I’m not a saviour, and I’m not a saint/The man with the answers I certainly ain’t/I wouldn’t tell you what’s right and what’s wrong/I’m just a singer of songs."

That, I think, is Johnny Cash. Modest and boastful, humbly proud.

Whitley discovers life after Americana

Chris Whitley, that is.

In 1991, Chris Whitley made "Living With the Law" (Columbia), a CD that is as important as anything done by Gillian Welch or Lucinda Williams in establishing the genre known as Americana. His career since then is a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks one big hit means you're set for life.

Live Farmaid webast

My Story of the Day (the same column has Bobby Bare/Johnny Cash/Willie Nelson stories too ):

Kressley dishes 'Queer Eye' for Nashville guys

Kressley, who called from Dallas, where the show's been filming for next season, might have begun noticing this during one of his many trips to town. ''I remember going to Nashville as a little kid, wandering the streets looking for Tammy Wynette's house,'' he said. ''I've always been a big country fan.''

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