Johnny Cash is something beyond musical hero to me. My mom grew up most of her life in Memphis and as such her family and she were huge JC fans. I'm only 33 but I grew up listening to his LPs. When I got older, I inevitably spurned those old country/Southern singer roots of mine and set out for a musical (and world) taste that was newer, and to my thinking at the time, better.
Then in 1990, after Columbia Records--in their infinite idiocy--cut Johnny Cash from their label, he signed up with American Recordings. He did four almost exclusively acoustic albums with producer Rick Rubin. It was an unlikely pairing that, in my opinion, produced some of the best music ever made (and I don't say that lightly). After that first American Recordings DC, I had come full circle and dove back into the old JC albums and the new American Recording CDs that followed. His music, voice, life, stories, persona and character meant a lot to me. He helped me bridge the gap back to those country/Southern roots that I distanced myself from. Sometimes, I guess, you just have to go see the world to realize that genius and beauty was staring you in the face the whole time. JC was both.
"Hurt" was a wildly popular video and single, having reached number one on both the country and rock Billboards. It's pretty fitting that was his last release. If you'll notice in the video there is a broken Columbia Record frame on the floor in one of the shots. That hurt him bad, but I think it's safe to say he got the last laugh.
If you have checked out his old stuff or if you have and haven't checked out his new stuff, do yourself a favor and listen to it. As Marty Stuart said, "There are two kinds of people; there are those that like Johnny Cash and there are those that will."
"...I'm the kind of guy who if he can't have too much of a thing doesn't want any at all."