Cash: The Autobiography

Cash: The Autobiography

by Johnny Cash


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060727536
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/07/2003
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 68,002
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was an American icon and country music superstar, a professed man of faith, as well as the author of three books. Cash first sang publicly while in the air force in the early fifties. The youngest person ever chosen for the Country Music Hall of Fame, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and awarded eleven Grammies in a career that spanned generations. Married to country legend June Carter, Cash performed everywhere from Folsom Prison to the White House, hosted his own television show, appeared in feature films, and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

Read an Excerpt

My line comes down from Queen Ada, the sister of Malcolm IV, descended from King Duff, the first king of Scotland. Ada's holdings encompassed all the land east of the Miglo River in the Valley of the Bran, in what is now the county of Fife. Malcolm's castle is long gone, but you can still see some of its stones in the walls of the church tower in the little village of Strathmiglo. The motto on my people's coat of arms was "Better Times Will Come." Their name was Caesche; with emigration in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it came to be spelled the way it was pronounced, C-A-S-H.

The first American Cash was William, a mariner who captained his own ship, the Good Intent, sailing out of Glasgow across the Atlantic with cargoes of pilgrims for the New World until he himself settled in Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1667. His descendants migrated to Westmoreland County, Virginia, in the very early 1700s, before so many sons-in-law, past and present, that June makes a joke of it in her stage act.

My work life has been simple: cotton as a youth and music as an adult. In between I was an automobile factory worker in Michigan, a radio intercept operator for the United States Air Force in Germany, and a door-to-door appliance salesman for the Home Equipment Company of Memphis, Tennessee. I was a great radio operator and a terrible salesman. I hated the assembly line.

My first records were on the Sun label, run by Mr. Sam Phillips in Memphis and featuring Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and others as well as myself. My first single was "Cry, Cry, Cry" in 1955, my first big hit "I Walk the Line" in 19 5 6. 1 left Sun Records forColumbia in 119 5 8, and shortly after that I left Memphis for California.

My affair with pills had already begun. It quickly became allconsuming, eating me up for the next decade or so. Amazingly, it didn't completely ruin my career. During those years I made music I'm still proud of-particularly Ride This Train, Bitter Tears, and my other concept albums-and I had commercial success: "Ring of Fire" was a big hit for me in 1963. By that time I'd destroyed my family and was working hard on doing the same to myself.

I survived, though. I moved to Nashville, kicked my habit, and married June. My career accelerated. The Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album was a huge success, and in 1969 1 began hosting The Johnny Cash Show on the ABC TV network. After "Flesh and Blood" in 1970, 1 didn't have a chart-topping single until "One Piece at a Time " in 19 7 6, long after The Johnny Cash Show was history.

Between the early '70s and the early '90s I didn't sell huge numbers of records, but again I have to say that I made some music I'm still proud of, and those years weren't dull. I wrote my first autobiography, Man in Black, and my first novel, Man in White. I teamed up with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson in the Highwaymen. I left Columbia, owned by CBS Records, and went to Mercury/Polygram. I got elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. I got addicted to pain pills, got treated at the Betty Ford Clinic, recovered, got addicted again, and recovered again. I just about died, got saved by heart bypass surgery, and just about died again. I worked hundreds and hundreds of shows. I kept my operation together, more or less, until the wheel of fortune rolled around to me again.

That happened in 1994, when I formed an alliance with Rick Rubin, producer of radically non-Nashvillian acts like the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chill Peppers, and made my American Recordings album. According to the media at the time, that caused an overnight change in my status from "Nashville has-been" to "hip icon." Whatever they called me, I was grateful. It was my second major comeback; the minor ones have been too many to count.

I'm still on the circuit today, still recording, still writing songs, still showing up to play everywhere from Midwestern auditoriums to Manhattan trend spots to the Royal Albert Hall.I'm in reasonable shape physically and financially. I'm still a Christian, as I have been all my life. vBeyond that I get complicated. I endorse Kris Kristofferson's line about me: "He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction." I also like Rosanne's line: "He believes what he says, but that don't make him a saint." I do believe what I say. There are levels of honesty, though.

And there are levels of intimacy. I go by various names. I'm Johnny Cash in public and on record sleeves, CD labels, and billboards. I'm Johnny to many people in the business, some of them friends and acquaintances of many years. To June, I'm John, and that's my name among other intimates: my band, my sons-in-law, many friends, and people who work closely with me. Finally, I'm J.R., my name from childhood. My brothers and sisters and other relatives still call me that. So does Marty Stuart. Lou Robin, my manager, alternates between J.R. and John. June recognizes that I operate at various levels, so she doesn't always call me John. When I'm paranoid or belligerent, she'll say, "Go away, Cash! It's time for Johnny to come out." Cash is her name for the star, the egomaniac. Johnny is her name for her playmate.

Several names, several homes. I'm part gypsy, part homebody, so I live according to a rhythm alien to most people but natural to me, splitting my time on a semi-predictable basis between my big house on Old Hickory Lake just outside Nashville; my farm at Bon Aqua, farther outside Nashville; the house in Port Richey, Florida, that June inherited from her parents; an endless succession of hotels all over the world; my bus; and my house in Jamaica, Cinnamon Hill.

Table of Contents

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Cash 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
debrarbell on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Facinating insight into the life of a legandary country singer. The one and only Johnny Cash.
vandaleyes on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Johnny Cash's story is thoroughly enjoyable. Instead of it being entirely about glorifying his musical career, you get a very personal glimpse into the his personal life detailing his family and those¿within the music world and outside¿who've helped him out along the way. A portrait is painted of his upbringing in the rural south, his search for meaning, a detour to the dark side, and ultimately getting in touch with himself and the earth. Very well-written and entirely worth it as this is one of the best autobiographies around.
defrog on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I¿m not much for music bios (or autobios, in this case), but I figured someone like Cash would have some tales to tell. And he does. And they¿re mostly riveting, though, unsurprisingly, he spends a hell of a lot of pages paying tribute to his two greatest loves: God and June Carter. But then I expected that. The best bits are the anecdotes of hanging out with Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Merle Travis and all the other rock/country legends. And of course stories of pill popping, driving Cadillacs into phone poles and chopping holes in hotel rooms with a fire ax. He also managed to clear up a few things about Wesley Orbison, Roy¿s first son (who was in my junior bowling league, though that¿s not to say I knew him). The only downside was learning that Cash never did time in jail, if you don¿t count the occasional overnight stay in the drunk tank. See, this is why I don¿t read music bios.
ostrom on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a very good read. Johnny could write prose as well as songs.
MorgannaKerrie on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Johnny Cash's words are both thoughtful and inspiring. His life story is fascinating. This is one of those books everyone should read atleast two times.
kdwade on LibraryThing 3 months ago
If you like inspiring stories, if you like funny old people, if you like country music, if you like Johnny Cash, if you like to hear how somebody else found meaning in life, give this book a shot.
tetchechury on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Awesome. Plain and simple. Johnny Cash was one of the coolest cats on the planet, and this autobiography is no different. A must read for fans and non fans alike.
danbarrett on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Cash is, of course, interesting. I'm a huge fan and therefore enjoyed this book. I just feel that he rambles - he tends to go on about things I don't really think required so much attention given them. Of course, this is his second autobiography, so that may be part of it. A good read, though skipping some of the more beaucolic parts won't hurt.
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KaylehhAnne13 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Johnny really is a great storyteller. I'm not one for reading books more than once but I think I will with this one. If you aren't already a Cash fan this book might make you one. I highly recommend it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a superb autobiogarpghy of THE MAN IN BLACK. I think he gives us great detail of things that happened in his life. The way he came up with some of his songs and his battle with drugs. A Very interesting book to read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Johnny Cash is more then you think. he is a man of outstanding statue. He is more then what people think he is, You can learn so much about life within this book. he had so much to offer anyone who talked to him. His life was so amazing, he did so much. Wether you like Johnny or not you sould read this book. My johnny's legend live on!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book. Mr. Cash has a way with words. He welcomes you into his life as if you were a treasured friend. This isn¿t just about his career, but about him as a person, his thoughts and views. He talks about his home life before he became a star. He talks about his lifetime friends, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan to name a few. He takes you home to Cinnamon Hill, a sugar plantation built in 1700¿s with stories of how he came to own it, his home invasion, and a few ghost stories too. He takes to the White House and his meeting with each President. Mr. Cash bears his soul in this book, with his sense of humility, his spirituality and his love for June. I believe that fan¿s of the Man in Black won¿t be disappointed. They¿ll see a side of the man that perhaps they hadn¿t known.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like a lot of people, I knew of Johnny Cash, and even liked a few of his songs. However, after watching Walk the Line and rediscovering his music, seeing a snippet of his life, I became enthralled. I¿ve since bought several of his albums, plan on buying more, and was quite delighted to find a copy of this book. I was expecting an autobiography, but I guess that¿s what the Man in Black is, which is sadly out of print (is anyone doing anything about that?). This book is more analogous to a journal, a collection of thoughts about Johnny Cash¿s life, career, friends, family, and music. It¿s a little disjointed, a little rambling once or twice, but who¿s journal isn¿t? It offers profound insight into the mind of one of the most brilliant musicians of our time. Anyone who has been a long time fan, or just recently discovered Johnny Cash will enjoy this book. Just don¿t expect to read the exact story portrayed in Walk The Line through Johnny¿s eyes, but do expect to gain even more respect and insight into a modern folk legend.