Sunday, October 08, 2006

Not Cashing In

I enjoyed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line very much. It had some of the best sound of any Hollywood films that I've seen /heard -- the opening sequence at the prison was sensational. I've long been a Reese Witherspoon fan -- Election was a revelation -- and I was equally impressed by Joaquin Phoenix. It was only a few weeks afterwards when I reflected on the BBC4 documentaries on Cash that I started to have some doubts, not about the quality of the film but about the story. Johhny's daughter from his first marriage, Rosanne, was critical of the film and what she thought was a misrepresentation of her mother, Vivian. Rosanne's sister Kathy was also critical, feeling that the film gave the impression that her mother had been a drag on Johnny's career.

This had an impact for me because although I've always liked John R. Cash as a performer, I've always been a bigger fan of Rosanne. After his death in 2003, I bought some albums from the Cash back catalogue and got into him again, but my passion for Rosanne's music from the 1980s had cooled a little. Then I discovered how easy it was to digitise my vinyl LPs. Suddenly I was back into Rosanne's music in a big way (and that of one time husband Rodney Crowell, who produced a lot of her best work). I then debated whether I should acquire her latest album, Black Cadillac. I knew it was written at a time when she was reflecting on the death of not only her father and stepmother June Carter in 2003, but also her mother in 2005 and her step sister. Could I cope with an album completely focused on the death of loved ones? In the end, I was convinced by the reviews and I got the album. What an astonishing piece of work. Deeply moving, but not at all maudlin. It has some of the best melodies and lyrics I've heard for a while and sounds as good as 'Seven Year Ache' or 'King's Record Shop', my favourite 80s albums. Perhaps I'll consider the 90s albums next.

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