Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.

This may or may not have happened. An overheard conversation the other day.

She: “You never listen to me.”
He: “Of course I do. Don’t be silly.”
Time passes. He is in deep concentration on his Blackberry.
She: “Did you hear that the White Stripes have a new album out?”
He: “Uh huh.”
She: ”I love that Jack Stripes.”
He: “Me too.”
Wack. He is hit over the head with his Blackberry.

The other day I had a dream about Johnny Cash. Johnny was down on his luck and was relegated to playing a show at a nursing home.

It wasn’t even a proper stage. The room was what they call a “Multi-purpose” room. Most of the time it’s purpose was a cafeteria. You could smell the cabbage from yesterday’s lunch. On one end it had a pathetic sort of stage. Folding chairs in the audience.

Johnny stood on one end of the sort of stage and waited for the opening act to finish. It was a one man band with cymbals on his knees, a bass drum strapped to his chest and a Bob Dylan harmonica holder festooned with not only a harmonica but a kazoo and a bicycle horn.

He finished an off key version of Alexander’s rag time band and walked over to Johnny, his knee cymbals keeping time.
“Tough crowd.” He said, mopping his brow.
He walked away.
Johnny strode confidently out, wearing his guitar and his trademark black. He leaned into the cheap microphone and spoke those words he was best known for.

“Hello…I’m Johnny Cash.”

No discernable reaction from the dozen or so seniors. They continued to chat with each other, ignoring the ageing superstar on stage.

Johnny gamely launched into “Folsum Prison blues.”

“I hear the train a comin´
it’s rolling round the bend
and I ain´t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin´ on”

Johnny looked out and saw no one paying him any attention.
Even being the consummate showman he was it rattled him.

“but that train keeps a rollin´ on down to San Anton..
When I was just…… ….be a good boy, don’t shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

Johnny had lost his place and forgotten the lyrics to his most famous song.
He stopped and looked out at the old folks in the audience.
Then he stepped off the stage and levitated himself over their heads.
Looking down at the gray and blue hair he launched into the next verse.

“I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
they’re probably drinkin´ coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
but those people keep a movin´
and that’s what tortures me…”

Hovering over their heads singing the song that made the convicts in the California prison yell and stomp their feet the flying Johnny Cash was drawing no more of their attention then the smell of yesterdays soup.

He flew away still strumming his guitar.

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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