Tag Archives: johnny cash

The man who couldn’t cry

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Loudon Wainwright wrote and performed The Man Who Couldn’t Cry without making much of a splash.  Fairly typical of Loudon Wainwright, despite the fact he’s always had my vote for president or anything else he might want to do.

However, Johnny Cash is another man who has always had my vote and I’ll confess he does about as fine a job on the song as Wainwright.  As far as I know those two are the only people who’ve ever performed it.

Think about it.  We live in this amazing time.  The oldest, most musically astute of us probably couldn’t name more than a couple of 19th Century singers.  We know they sang and people loved their singing, Lola Montez, Lillian Langtry.  But we’ve never heard them do it.

For we 21st Century folks, though, Al Jolson’s still alive out there singing Mammy, Waiting on the Robert E Lee and Anniversary song.  In two part harmony with Lee Marvin singing I Was Born Under a Wandrin Star in Paint Your Wagon.  The Kingston Trio are their young selves being the Cumberland Three singing Civil War Songs, or as themselves rendering another South Coast and Seasons in the Sun.

It isn’t just the listening, either.  Incredibly, we can wander around on YouTube and watch young Lonnie Donnegan sing Jack of Diamonds and Chuck Berry perform Se La Vie Say the Old Folks.

A briefly popular song from 1961-62 used to run through my head, Dear One, by the Ravens.  I asked lots of people through the years if anyone remembered it with never a soul answering they did.  But there it is on YouTube.  Horrid song.  I can’t believe I loved it back when then was then.  But there you are.

But I’ve digressed.  I was listening to MP3 shuffling through songs, passing the time, and heard Johnny Cash singing The Man Who Couldn’t Cry.  I never recalled hearing it before.  Laughed and snorted, looked it up on YouTube to watch him sing it.  When Jeanne got home between jobs I played it for her to provide a laugh.

“Who’s that singing it?  That’s a Loudon Wainwright song!”

“Eh?  No, that’s Johnny Cash.”

“I know it’s a Loudon Wainwright song.  Look it up!”

Okay, spang robbed my macho.  Hell, until we met Jeanne had never heard of Loudon Wainwright.  [Nor a lot of her other favorite performers, I hasten to brag]  But here she is thanks to it being the 21st Century when all the singers of the 20th Century are still alive and young if they wanted to be, here’s Jeanne instructing me on whether that’s a Johnny Cash song, or a Loudon Wainwright song.

And the cool thing about that is the day is coming when nobody who loves Johnny Horton singing Miss Marcy will have been alive when Johnny Horton sang it.  People will probably dance to Al Jolson singing Anniversary Song and be as moved as they were in 1950.

At least as long as the Internet lasts.  Probably around December, this year.

Old Jules

Pre and post Elvis Imitators

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read so damned early in this year we’re stuck inside.  I tried looking forward into it and couldn’t see a thing I recognized.  Almost everything appears to be an imitation of something else and a lot of what’s being imitated came later than me paying it any mind.

However, this imitating thing has been going on a longish time.  Listening to the Late Marty Robbins talking about all the people he had to imitate before he ever got any popular songs of his own is a lesson in musical history.  Somewhere below you can actually hear him do it.

But for my generation the bulk of the imitating ended up being Elvis Presley stuff.  Steve Goodman explains it better than I could:

Even Johnny Cash imitated Elvis at a time when Johnny Cash was at the top of the charts:

But of course, imitation is the something-or-other of whatchallit, according to someone or other who’s frequently quoted.  And Elvis imitated Johnny Cash because turnabout is something-or-other.

A lot of you readers probably never even heard of Ferlin Husky, but back when Keith Kelt and I were kids listening to KENM radio in Portales, New Mexico, Ferlin was a big piece of the musical fare.  Along with Kitty Wells, Red Foley, Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce, Gentleman Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Snow and Hank Williams.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of Ferlin’s stunts was imitating most of them:

And for that matter, so did a much younger Merle Haggard:

Merle did it enough to draw the attention of the ones he imitated.  Here he is singing George Jones with George Jones and Johnny Cash with Johnny Cash:

I mentioned Gentleman Jim Reeves back around the time of Ferlin Husky but he got away from me.  Here he is a few years before anyone ever heard of Merle Haggard, but Johnny Cash was already on the charts:

Johnny Counterfit made a career of imitating them all and did a middling good job of it.  He could still do young Johnny Cash when Johnny Cash couldn’t do young Johnny Cash anymore.  [Afterthought:  Notice Chet Atkins sitting there in front of him while he’s playing.  Old Chet was one hell of a guitarist but he doesn’t appear to give Johnny Counterfit a particularly high approval rating.  Maybe Counterfit didn’t bow and scrape enough to suit him.]

I mentioned Marty Robbins earlier telling about how he used to have to imitate other singers before he got popular and eventually died.  It’s worth listening to him telling who he was imitating.  I’ll bet a lot of you never heard of Johnny Ray.

I’m including this non-imitation of Johnny Ray so’s you’ll have an appreciation for the tough job of work Marty Robbins had doing it.

Seems almost everyone these days is imitating something, judging from the way words such as ‘awesome’, ‘fail’, ‘epic’ and a hundred other good solid words have lost their meanings, been usurped by meanings from the mouths of television writers.

But I suppose it’s possible to do some imitating without being a fawning worshiper of fad or some mindless celebrity with a screenwriter feeding the memorable lines.

Wonder what ever became of Gentleman Jim Reeves.  I thought for a lot of years he was killed in the plane crash with Hawkshaw Hawkins and wossname, Patsy Cline.  But while I was looking all this up on YouTube I was reminded that was Cowboy Copas.  Still, I’m fairly certain Jim Reeves bit it around then, too.

Old Jules

Bob Dylan goes Senior Citizen

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’m not a person who toadies to celebrities.  I couldn’t care less what they say or think about anything, what they do with their genitalia, what they eat, drink, or snort.  If I like something they do on stage, on audio, on screen, that’s what gets my attention.  I mostly don’t read biographies, autobiographies, mostly don’t watch interviews.

With rare exceptions.  Leonard Cohen interests me.  Louden Wainwright III interests me, Guy Clark interests me, and Tom Russell interests me.  But Guy Clark and Leonard Cohen are the only ones I’d ever seen interviewed until now.

But I got to wondering whether Bob Dylan is still alive.  I first was introduced to his music at a place on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village during the summer of 1964.  McDougal’s might have been the name of the place.  And same as everyone else at that time and place, I was blown away.

So I went to the miracle of YouTube and started searching, thinking at least to hear some good music.  And there they were, interviews with Bob Dylan, interviews with other people talking about Bob Dylan.  Dozens of them scattered over half-century.  So I picked a few, beginning with back when he was my age, 70 times around the sun.

Bob Dylan Interview and a very revealing one at that

For Bob Dylan it is Always the Same Interview 42 Years in 24 Minutes

Bob Dylan.Funny Interview.

I don’t care what the Beetles think, or thought about Bob Dylan, nor about anything else for that matter.  But they did have a few good songs, and maybe what they say about Dylan will interest someone.

The Beatles talk about Bob Dylan

John Lennon and Bob Dylan Conversation

Bob Dylan and John Lennon on God and Religion

Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference (Dec. 1965) 1/6

Bob Dylan – After The Crash – 1966-1978 (Part 1 of 12).mp4

I never knew Dylan got religion, or whatever it was he got, but I’m glad for him, though I don’t care whether he did or not from the perspective of knowing about it.

Bob Dylan – The Gospel Interview

Bob Dylan 1966 Interview, WBAI

Bob Dylan – Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award – 1991 Grammy Awards

Dylan and I didn’t know it because we never got around to discussing the matter, but we shared a lot of respect for Johnny Cash.  Johnny Cash, I suppose, might qualify as another person I’d have possibly cared what he thought about some things.  If I’d ever met Dylan we could have regaled one another with Johnny Cash respect, I suppose.

Bob Dylan on Johnny Cash. NDH outtake

I’ve mentioned Loudon Wainwright III is one of the people I’m mildly interested in what they might say about something outside the context of a song.  Well, in this instance I didn’t have to look outside Loudon Wainwright’s music.  He wrote this song to Dylan on Dylan’s 50th birthday.

Loudon Wainwright III – Talking New Bob Dylan.wmv

The Simon and Garfunkel thing about Dylan has always seemed to me to be a cheap shot.  Dylan wrote the song that launched Simon and Garfunkel into fame.  Sound of Silence.  But when Dylan left ‘folk’ behind to invent ‘folk rock’ Simon and Garfunkel got offended enough to personally attack him in song:  Bastards, both of them.  Screw them, though they did one-hell-of-a-lot of great songs.  If they’d kept their nasty little comments off their albums I’d never have known.  Pricks.

Simon & Garfunkel – A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission)

The Sound of Silence (Original Version from 1964)

Peter, Paul and Mary got pretty pissed when Dylan drifted to folk rock, too.  I saw an interview with one of the guys several years later in which he said it was the only really nasty attack song they ever recorded, and that they all regretted it.  Something about what he said made me thing it was directed at Dylan.  Listen to the words carefully to hear the sarcasm “between the lines”.  But at least they did it with some class.  They made a lot of money and miles off Bob Dylan creations.

I dig rock n roll music

So I think I’ll just toadie to Loudon Wainwright’s birthday tribute to Bobby Dylan and make a wish when I think he’s blowing out the candles in the wind:  “Here’s hoping you outlive me Bobby Dylan.  I’d like an excuse to begin my next lifetime in time to hear what you do after I exit the vehicle.”

Old Jules