Following on from reading The Point of Poetry earlier this year I made a conscious decision to read more poetry. Where best to continue with this, than with the man in black himself, Johnny Cash?
Forever Words is a collection of never before published poems and lyrics written by Country Music legend Johnny Cash. The selection ranges from pieces written in the 1950s right up to shortly before his death in 2003. It features a forward by John Carter Cash (Johnny’s son) and is introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon. There is a photograph or two of the man himself but more interestingly are copies of his handwritten prose
Love, of drugs, women and home soil
Throughout Forever Words there are strong recurring themes of love and addiction, and a sense of connection or longing for home soil. The pieces clearly reflect Johnny’s life. He was a farmer’s son, whose addictions are well documented. Putting my poetry pants, on ‘Big-Hearted Girl’ ticks a lot of boxes literary wise but there are also ones that raise a wry smile, ‘I Wish You A Merry Christmas’ being a prime example. The poem ‘Forever’, penned in the summer of 2003 when Johnny was no doubt contemplating his mortality, is simply breath taking:
“But the trees that I planted
Still are young
The songs I sang
Will still be sung”
I can only imagine how many times the 1982 poem ‘Don’t Make A Movie Out of Me’ must have been quoted when Walk The Line was first made in 2005 – a film all about…..Johnny Cash!
Fans of the man, fans of poetry
Forever Words is an excellent insight in to the man behind the legend. Fans of Johnny’s music will no doubt love it, all 132 hard-backed pages. The talent of Cash however means that fans of poetry will also appreciate it, as did I, lying somewhere in between the two.