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Thursday, June 26, 2008

GMVW # 25: "Inner Demons"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 25: Inner Demons
Song: The Beast in Me by Nick Lowe
Covered Here By: Johnny Cash
(Songwriter: Nick Lowe)
June 26, 2008

If you saw the Johnny Cash movie ‘Walk the Line’ you know the producers didn’t pull any punches.  There was no sugar-coating Cash’s life whatsoever.  In fact, one could argue the opposite.  Yet, though I never read a Cash critique of the movie, I got the sense that it was in line with how he wanted to be portrayed.  Why?  This weeks Gem Video explains it.

Honest song writing can be based on virtually any subject matter, but when the topic is self deprecation, there is little doubt as to its truth telling.  Few musicians however find the courage to open themselves up in that way to their fan base.  Richard Thompson is well known for writing lyrics about his inner turmoil.  So was Kurt Cobain.  I believe this was also the case with Hank Williams.  Pete Townshend got so personal on the ‘Who By Numbers’ album that Roger Daltrey struggled to find a voice for the lyrics to several of the songs, and outright rejected doing the lead vocals to ‘However Much I Booze’ (which Townshend ended up singing himself on the album).  Townshend also lit into himself thru other songs in his career:  ‘Don’t Let Go the Coat’, ‘Slit Skirts’, ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ and ‘New Song’ all come to mind.  Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ is pretty impressive as well along these lines.

And so, this week’s Gem Video, ‘The Beast in Me’ is a bow to all those musicians who aren’t afraid to reveal the warts in their lives.  Nick Lowe (Gem # 14) wrote the song, but it was clearly written for (and covered by) his one-time Father-in-Law, Johnny Cash, who gladly accepted it as his own, frequently telling audiences that the song had him pegged.

I’d like to think though that, despite all his regrets, Johnny Cash still had his bases covered at the Pearly Gates.  After all, handing in a resume with an accomplishment which reads “Famous for playing at prisons for prisoners for peanuts when he could have been playing to large sold-out venues’ would be a strong qualification for entry.  Speaking of prison appearances, I have also included the clip from of my favorite part of the ‘Walk the Line’ movie.  I can’t tell if the prisoners are real or actors.  I must have replayed this scene (including the lead up backstage scene) 30 times when I rented the movie.

“Sometimes it tries to kid me that it’s just a teddy bear
 and even somehow manage to vanish in the air”

- Pete

Gem Music Video: The Beast in Me (the original link is no longer there: This one is pretty darn good, though *But I will switch to the first link in a heartbeat*)

Cocaine Blues (from the Walk the Line movie) *Man, this is awesome*

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About the Video: Johnny Cash in his later years, sitting on a stool surrounded by an audience in chairs.  The video starts in color, but soon switches to black and white

Video Rating: 1

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Best Feedback: Jack

Greetings my old friend.

Well, you know what I mean...we're not old yet.  :-)

I was reading your commentary below, and would like to give you some food for thought on the statement below.  First, you are absolutely right that Cash was self deprecating.  The reason he was so was because Cash understood that regardless of his talents, his abilities to reach to the downtrodden and yes, the choice of venues from which he ministered with music, all of this emanated from Cash' understanding that he was spiritually destitute, and that really there was nothing he could offer to God to redeem himself other than knowing the Son of God.  Otherwise, why would we need a redeemer, right?  Aside from his great talents, he knew that he was going to approach the pearly gates with empty pockets, and that it was Christ alone that justified him.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by me".  This is the core doctrine of what Cash believed.  Any way...just thought I'd throw it out there.... ;)

Take care,

-Jack

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