Me and Johnny

“I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love.
And Mother. And God.”

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Museum–Nashville, TN

Johnny left us September 12, 2003.

Not many people know that I actually met him years ago while working as a photographer at a large event in Washington, D.C. A lot of important people were on a stage…doing everything they could to stay important. But I saw this guy in black on the other side calmly refusing to participate in the ego jockeying that was taking place.

Somehow I caught his eye and he walked right up to me laughing. “Can you believe this,” he asked shaking his head. I was in complete awe for the next few minutes as Johnny chatted me up like we were old friends. I tried to act like I had casual conversations with music legends all the time. He was as genuine and gracious of a human being as you could ever imagine.

Years later when I met some of his family and friends in the context of another project —my impressions remained the same. My only regret? I was so star struck in the nation’s capital that evening, I forgot to take a picture of him…