Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sounds That Recognize the Pain in Me: Folsom Prison Blues

In which the author reveals too much about himself and will probably regret it later.

I've loved Johnny Cash since I was in Jr. High School and someone played me I Walk the Line as a joke. "Ha ha old song, isn't it funny?" Just one song and I was hooked. I went to K-Mart as soon as I could and bought Greatest Hits on cassette tape. Yup, they still sold those back then. It wasn't that long ago either, but it sure seems like it.
Awhile later a great Aunt of mine died and I got her record player and collection of country albums. Among those was a couple Cash records, one of which was from his Sun Records days. No, it's not worth anything, I researched it and found out it was a reprint. Originals do go for quite a bit of money though. From that collection I also nabbed some Grandpa Jones, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, and Conway Twitty LPs. There was a whole couple years where I was crazy for old country music and spun those records till the damn player stopped working.
Cash was always my favorite. There was just something about that voice and that simple but driving bass and drum that got me and never let go. I cried the day he passed away and went to see Walk the Line twice even though I didn't think it was a very good movie. (They took a man with a very complex mind and crazy tumultuous life and turned it into a clich├ęd Hollywood bio-pic. That was the least of its crimes.) The one scene I did like from the movie though was when Johnny was in the Air Force, a place he clearly didn't want to be, and it shows him sitting by himself picking out Folsom Prison Blues. Suddenly I understood what that song was about. It isn't just about being stuck in jail, it's about being stuck anywhere you don't want to be. It resonates with me very much more now than when I first heard it because I'm stuck in the same way Johnny was.
I've been serving in the United States Airforce for over two years now. I have about two years left on my contract. When I signed my name on that paper letting the government own my ass for four years I was a completely different person. I had failed at just about everything I had tried to do and had nowhere to go. I was stuck working minimum wage washing dishes and living at home with my Dad. Total loser stuff right there. I weighed my options and decided that the only way out was military service.
So here I am 2 years later stuck in a job I don't like, surrounded by people I can't relate too, and with my friends and family thousands of miles away from me. It's a steady job while the economy is in the dumps, but so what? This isn't what I want to be doing with my life and it makes me miserable. I see people going places and doing what they want, the "rich folks eating in a fancy dining car" "drinking coffee and smoking big cigars" and it makes me sad. But all I can do is sit and wait it out, wait until that train comes up the track and I can move on.
Thats a long way of explaining why I like this song and if I sound bitchy and emo I'm sorry. I don't have many people to talk to and writing seems to cheer me up. At least I can sleep better at night now that I have an outlet for my misery.

Bonus song:
Pixies - In Heaven

Pixies + Eraserhead = some freaky and awesome shit.

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