Remember when country music wasn’t all jingo?

I barely remember it myself, but I do remember a machine that kills fascists. And now here’s a statement from the family of Johnny Cash.

A message from the children of Johnny Cash:
We were alerted to a video of a young man in Charlottesville, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile. He was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of Johnny Cash, our father. We were sickened by the association.
Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice. He received humanitarian awards from, among others, the Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith, and the United Nations. He championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners. Along with our sister Rosanne, he was on the advisory board of an organization solely devoted to preventing gun violence among children. His pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics. He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred. The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor.
Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.’
We do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed. We value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness. We respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity. We recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.
To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.
We Choose Love.
Rosanne Cash
Kathy Cash
Cindy Cash
Tara Cash
John Carter Cash
August 16, 2017
‘Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.’ Rep. John Lewis

I swear, if I hear Melvin Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA one more time, I’m gonna have to puke in someone’s face. But I can listen to Cash all the time.


  1. microraptor says

    The good old pre-9/11 days, when it was socially acceptable for a country music singer to be anti-war.

  2. keithb says

    Lyrics to “Man in Black”, 1971:
    Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
    Why you never see bright colors on my back,
    And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
    Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

    I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
    Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
    I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
    But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

    I wear the black for those who never read,
    Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
    About the road to happiness through love and charity,
    Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

    Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose,
    In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes,
    But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back,
    Up front there ought ‘a be a Man In Black.

    I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
    For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
    I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been,
    Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

    And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
    Believen’ that the Lord was on their side,
    I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
    Believen’ that we all were on their side.

    Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
    And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
    But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
    You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

    Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
    And tell the world that everything’s OK,
    But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
    ‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.

  3. busterggi says

    Funny isn’t it how CW music got all conservative after its performers started letting their hair grow and wearing jeans like the hippies they hated?

  4. Holms says

    I thought it common knowledge that he habitually wore plain black out of solidarity to the various underclasses; so much so that he was nicknamed ‘The Man in Black.’

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    That was a magnificent statement from the Cash family. Thank you.

  6. OverlappingMagisteria says

    Great statement. But a nit pick: it was Woodie Guthrie’s guitar that kills fascists, not Cash’s

  7. Friendly says

    Apologies for being OT, but did anyone else see this banner ad on P.Z.’s page this morning? this banner ad crops up:

    If you can open that link, look closely: They’re advertising a game called “Happy Wheels” using bad art that shows Santa’s sleigh being drawn by a pair of elves with reins attached to collars around their necks and jingle-bell straps attached to harnesses around their waists.

    What the actual F?

    Just to see who created this abomination, I opened the ad’s link in another tab; “Happy Wheels” is apparently one facet of Arcaderacks (dot) com, whose pitch seems to be “please install our malware so you can play some of the crappiest ‘arcade games’ ever made.” I guess they figure that anyone who likes the idea of playing a “game” that treats elves like draft reindeer is just the sort of person who would fall for that deal. Not sure why the ad server thinks that this site’s readership would qualify, though.

  8. Friendly says

    Sorry about the extra “this banner ad crops up:” in the earlier post. Cut-and-paste error.

  9. Timberwoof says

    Yes, Friendly. What the Fing F? That scene sounds like some kind of nonconsensual bondage scene. These guys need rescuing! The Keebler Elves and Peter Pan will have to wait; they are clearly in it for the money.

  10. says

    John Carter Cash is the author of a lovely children’s tale, Lupus Rex. It’s a tad dark, so for older sprogs.

  11. jahigginbotham says

    Johhny Cash was a great guy after he straightened his life out. And as his children say, he would be horrified by the misuse of his image. But he grew up in and was a product of the south. Which is fine.
    Those tired of Melvin Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA might try this Cash number from 1983 (actually not a very good song):

    God Bless Robert E. Lee
    When Robert E Lee surrended the Confederacy Jefferson Davis was upset about it
    He said how dare that man rescind an order
    Form the president of the Confederate States of America
    Then somebody told him that General Lee had made the decision himself
    In order to save lives because he felt that the battle comin’ up
    Would cost about 20 000 lives on both sides
    And he said 240 000 dead already is enough
    So this song is not about the North or the South but about the bloody brother war
    Brother against brother father against son the war that nobody won
    And for all those lives that were saved I gotta say God bless Robert E Lee
    Well the mansion where the General used to live is burning down
    Cottonfields are blue with Sherman’s troups
    I overheard a yankee say yesterday Nashville fell
    So I’m on my way to join the fight General Lee might need my help
    But look away look away Dixie I don’t want them to see
    What they’re doing to my Dixie God bless Robert E Lee
    Sherman’s troups burned Atlanta and the flames lit up the sky
    And those of us who survived it are watchin’ my Dixie die
    But today at Appamattox General Lee sat down
    And surrended to the Yankees and Ulysses S Grant
    So look away look away Dixie…
    I won’t ever stop loving you my Dixie till they put me in the ground
    And the last words they probably hear from me are God bless Robert E Lee

  12. handsomemrtoad says

    Johnny Cash had a real voice. With the right training, he could have done something like this:

  13. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    Now I’ve seen the Cash family and the Tiki Torch Company very effectively distance themselves from these Nazi movements. Something Der Trumpenfuhror couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

  14. DLC says

    Johnny Cash wasn’t perfect. He was a man with human failings. He was a religious man. But he was a decent person.

  15. Ganner says

    Along with Isbell, Sturgill Simpson is that sort of old school country artist. Lot of anti-military, anti-war themes on his most recent album. First verse of “Call to Arms” –

    I done Syria, Afganistan, Iraq, and Iran
    North Korea tell me where does it end
    Well the bodies keep piling up with every day
    How many more of em they gonna send

    Well they send their sons and daughters off to die
    For some oil
    To control the heroin
    Well son I hope you don’t grow up
    Believing that you’ve got to be a puppet to be a man

    Well they cut off your hair and put a badge on your arm
    Strip you of your identity
    Tell you to keep your mouth shut boy and get in the line
    Meet your maker over seas

  16. says

    It’s good to see that there’s counter-culture country still around. I’m not gonna say I’m a huge fan of Cash, as he had his flaws (God Bless Robert E. Lee, for example), but today’s pop country has forgotten his legacy, and it’s disappointing. However, as Paul Yingst and Ganner point out, there’s still good country out there if you know where to look.