I didn’t start listening to much of any kind of country until my father died just over four years ago. Growing up in the South, I’d always been around it, but I tried my best to tune it out. When Dad died though, something in me yearned for home, heritage and a sense of times long ago passed. Before we left Chattanooga and his funeral, I had by sheer accident locked onto a country station, and found the voice for so much of what had just happened in my life.
When I got back to St. Louis, I started listening to a wide swath of country music, and one of the first CDs I picked up was Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which featured Mother Maybelle Carter, Johnny Cash’s mother-in-law. I was drawn into the fabric of the music I heard on those CDs, and started listening to Cash’s music as an extension of that.
As part of that exploration, I picked up a second hand copy of Cash’s autobiography a couple of months ago and devoured the first part of it, before being interrupted by work and life, and only just picked it back up to finish it. I don’t think I’ve read too many biographies (auto or otherwise), but taken on its own merits, this book was an awfully good read. I don’t know how to better describe it other than saying that it was brutally honest, and was written in such a way to make you feel like Cash was right there, telling you the story of his life. It’s amazing how well his (apparent) manner came across in the writing of the book.
I highly recommend this one — it’s outstanding. It won’t make you cry or experience any great revelations… well, aside from the section detailing Cash’s self-destructive time spent in the caves at Nickajack, not far from where I grew up — if you can’t see the hand of God in that, then you’re just flat blind.
Go get this one and read it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.