“It was, like, all of a sudden, Generation X had fallen in love with Johnny Cash.”
Shares Joe Nick Patoski, a senior editor of Texas Monthly, in Michael Streissguth’s book, Ring of Fire. Patoski is talking about Cash’s South by Southwest performance in 1994, at Emo’s. A few months prior, in December of 1993, Cash had performed solo at the Sunset Strip’s Viper Room, in LA. The latter was Rick Rubin’s idea. Johnny was in town to record the first American Recordings album, with Rubin, and Rick thought it would be cool for the Man in Black to play out.
So began Cash’s resurgence. Years prior, he had been on his way to the usually imminent rockstar-black hole.
Suddenly he got cool. Real cool. And his reach kept getting wider. I’d argue that one of the strongest symbols of this is the wide variety of figures in the music video for “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” from the album American V: A Hundred Highways. Graham Nash, Keith Richards, Brian Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Billy Gibbons, Kate Moss, The Dixie Chicks, Kanye West, Johnny Depp, Travis Barker, Kid Rock, Tommy Lee, Chris Martin, and many others. Check it out if you’ve never seen it.
But I love that U2 found it a good idea to have Johnny sing on the 1993 album, Zooropa. Cash sang the last song on the project, a song called “The Wanderer.” Here are a couple of lines from the song:
I went out there / in search of experience
To taste and to touch / and to feel as much
As a man can / before he repents
In Steve Turner’s book The Man Called Cash, the story goes,
“That same year (1988) Cash met Bono, who came to Hendersonville during a driving trip across America with U2 bass player Adam Clayton. When they sat down for a meal, Cash intoned a long and elaborate grace, thanking God for his wonderful provisions and asking him to bless the food to their bodies. Then he opened his eyes, winked at Bono, and said, ‘Sure do miss the drugs though’.”