September 11, 2008
Commemorating the Man in Black
Tomorrow sees the 5th anniversary of the death of country music legend Johnny Cash. Firstly, I would like to say that I can in no way claim to be a die hard Johnny Cash fan, or even a fan of country music (although some of its crossover and fusion genres I do find interesting). All I know of the man is his stature in the history of popular music, and the information gathered from his Wikipedia entry and the award winning film ‘Walk the Line’. However, the song below was first played to me by my father when I was young, and is rare in the fact that it is a piece of music I enjoy mainly for its lyrics. The country music genre, as well as being wide open to satire itself, has a rash of song writers that have a more than decent sense of humour, and are not afraid to demonstrate it in their music. ‘One Piece at a Time’, from Cash’s 1976 album of the same name is a song born in this mould. It was originally written by Wayne Kemp and tells the tale of a Detroit Cadillac factory worker, who dreams of owning one of the vehicles himself and decides to steal one bit-by-bit of the space of 30 years. The dry wit Cash brings to the recording is brilliant, and is something that he developed in other songs of a similarly humorous nature, such as ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and ‘The One on the Right is on the Left’. The highlight of ‘One Piece at a Time’ is the description of the singer and his friends’ attempts at putting all the bits of the Cadillac together, and its resulting difficulties. Anyway, RIP to an entertaining, mysterious and much missed musical figure, and enjoy his (in my opinion) finest recording below.