I got to hear Johnny Cash sing in person back in 1978. Here is a portion of an article about his Christian Testimony.
“Being a Christian isn’t for sissies,” Cash said once. “It takes a real man to live for God—a lot more man than to live for the devil, you know? If you really want to live right these days, you gotta be tough.”
What’s more, he was intimately aware of the hard truths about living God’s way: “If you’re going to be a Christian, you’re going to change. You’re going to lose some old friends, not because you want to, but because you need to.”
“I Don’t Give Up”
Especially since June’s death in May 2003, many wondered how much longer Cash could hang on to life—it’s not uncommon, after all, for longtime spouses to die in close succession to each other. And that’s exactly what happened.
But you have to admit those were fightin’ words to Cash. In fact, shortly after June’s death, Cash headed back into the studio to begin work on more songs with fellow rebel and producer of nearly a decade, Rick Rubin. (Truth to tell, Cash’s last two albums, American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around, were both reckoned as his farewell offerings.)
“He kind of made a decision,” Rubin told Billboard. “He called me a couple of days after June passed and said that he really has dedicated his life to work and wants to be busy all the time and focused on songs. That’s what he wants to do, so that’s what we’re going to do [and] that’s what we’ve been doing.”
And in his final days, despite moment-by-moment battles with diabetes, glaucoma (which cost him well over half of his vision), asthma, and a progressive, debilitating case of autonomic neuropathy (which deadened his nerve endings, complicated his other ailments, and pretty much confined Cash to a wheelchair during his waking hours), the Man in Black was anything but in a black mood. In fact, he was celebrating life—sopping up every second he could, while he could.
“I’m thrilled to death with life,” he told Larry King during a recent interview. “Life is—the way God has given it to me—was just a platter. A golden platter of life laid out there for me. It’s been beautiful.”
Observers were continually amazed with the grace Cash exuded despite the legion of forces working against him. “He looks more frail than imposing, propped up in his black leather recliner,” one writer noted. “Yet … it’s remarkable just how vital, even unassailable, Cash and his craggy baritone remain … and while Cash’s stentorian vocals may sound tattered, they still convey an almost biblical authority, a reverberant mix of judgment, hope, and, above all, steadfastness.”
“I don’t give up,” he told Larry King. “I don’t give up … and it’s not out of frustration and desperation that I say ‘I don’t give up.’ I don’t give up because I don’t give up. I don’t believe in it.”
Amen to that.