Archive for Johnny Cash

“I Saw The Light” (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, I Heart Holidays, Rock & Roll, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, The wisdom of the universe, Top 2% of Coolest Mofos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by alphabetfiend

“No more darkness , No more night . Now I’m so happy , no sorrow in sight . Praise the Lord, I saw the Light .”

Happy Birthday, Hank Williams!

It doesn’t matter who you are, whatever you’re into, if you have even a modicum of cool then you hafta give it up for Hank Williams.

Hank Williams is a country legend with punk rock rising.

Hank was/is mournful country heart with gospel soul, rock & roll charisma, and punk as fuck aura. 

Williams was regal and rebellious at once.

He had a dignified air and sexy masculinity, despite his rock-a-billy suits bedecked with glitter or musical notes.

Hank Williams, you magnificent mofo, thank you for all the gifts you’ve bestowed on us.

Happy Birthday.

In honor of Hank’s birthday, I’d chosen “I saw the light” for this weekend’s Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel. Cause Hank is divine and ’cause it’s “I Saw the Light,” C’mon! It’s a perfect punk rock gospel selection. Thing is, Hank’s birthday is today. What’s stopping us from having a Friday P.M. Punk Rock Gospel? Nothing! That’s the best part of a temple with no walls or a religion with no rules. You do like Johnny Cash and make it your own personal Jesus, whatever “it” may be. However it may happen, you are open to illumination.

 

Hey, it’s a bit dim in here, can somebody hit the lights?

(Hank Williams, singing “I Saw the Light” with The Carter Family. Listen… can you hear June’s voice?)

I SAW THE LIGHT
I wandered so aimless , life filled with sin.
I wouldn’t let my dear Saviour in.
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night .
Praise The Lord , I saw the Light .

CHORUS
I saw the Light , I saw the Light ,
No more darkness , No more night .
Now I’m so happy , no sorrow in sight .
Praise the Lord, I saw the Light .

Just like the blind man, I wandered along ,
Worries and fears , I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man, that God , gave back his sight .
Praise the Lord, I saw the Light .

CHORUS

I was a fool to wander and stray,
For straight is the gate and narrow the way.
Now I have traded , the wrong for the right .
Praise the Lord , I saw the Light .
CHORUS

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Sunday Morning Coming Down (Sunday A.M. Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Friendship, I Heart My Love-Tribe, Music & Life & Sundays, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by alphabetfiend

On the Sunday morning sidewalk, wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone.

Some sad-sacks say this song is depressing but not me.   I say it’s breathtakingly beautiful. 

 

A feeling doesn’t have to be “happy” to be worth something. 

A Sunday doesn’t have to be “joyous” to be well, a SUNDAY.  

I think this song — this “sad” song — is very life-affirming, very human, and very very AUSTIN.   It’s everything I’ve come to know and love about my life in this stony Texas town: Saturday nights spent with people I adore, music that moves me, drunken 6th street hugs as we all disperse after a great show.   

Maybe in the morning you will feel achey or godless or lonely but that’s okay because you are an Austin punk-rock darling who loved Saturday too much and now Sunday is giving you the cold shoulder.  

Have a smoke, eat an egg, enjoy being alive.  

Make amends with Sunday.

Now go pick a handful of yer neighbors posies and see how easily Sunday forgives. 

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

***********************************

I’m on the road, heading back to Austin from my dog days in Mississippi. I hate to go. I hate like hell to be separated from Thing 2, my baby niece who is at the cutest age (almost 2) and will grow too much before I’m back. We’ve forged quite the juicy bond. Uncle Robot sez, “She loves you! Your name is an exclamation of joy to her. Dia! Dia! She says ‘Dia’ like most folks say ‘hooray’.”

Who wouldn’t miss that?

Anyway, back to Texas I go and so I have chosen this post ( another repost* “Sorry” gulps the gasoline gypsy) because it was a love letter to Austin and I need to feel some of that love. But it’s also a love letter to Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, wherever you may be, and an ode to the punk rock good life.  

*An inferior version was originally posted on the 21st of September 2008 as one of the very first punk rock gospels. Back when the idea still had wobbly newborn legs. Back when I tried to keep things brief. Do y’all prefer a shorter gospel? Let me know! 

If you’ve read this before, don’t despair. Check back in the next couple days for I hope to post a brand new special “Belated-Birthday” edition in honor of my Dad’s August 9 birth. So you know it’ll be a good one, being as I am a daddy’s girl who loves that man more than books. Fur reals.

Alphabetfiend is Dia VanGunten — a writer & wanna-be circus freak living in Austin, Texas.

Your Own Personal Jesus (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Music & Life & Sundays, Mythos, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Have your personal Jesus call my personal Jesus and we’ll work somethin’ out. How’s Sunday work for ya?    

For this week’s Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, I’ve chosen a song that’s gone through quite a transformation since its early 90’s hey-day. Originally done by Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” got a whole new spiritual life when covered by the late great Johnny Cash.    

    

Johnny Cash recorded “Personal Jesus” for his 2002 album American IV: When the Man Comes Around. Brilliantly produced by Rick Rubin, the album is a masterful collection of Cash covering songs by such diverse artists as Nine Inch Nails or Simon & Garfunkle. (Hurt; A Bridge Over Troubled Water) It’s clear from Rubin’s song selections that he’d listened to a lot of old Johnny Cash records. Each song is a glimpse into Cash’s psyche, soul and sound.    

    

“Personal Jesus” was an especially perfect choice and yet not at all obvious.    

Johnny Cash? Depeche Mode? Whuuut?    

C’mon, think about it! “Personal Jesus” was made for Johnny Cash. It’s a Jesus song! And damn can Johnny sing us some Jesus.    

“Gospel music is part of what I am and part of what I do,” — JC    

By 2002, singing about Jesus was old hat to Cash: he’d struck an earthly aching chord with songs like “Redemption”, “I Saw the Light” or (my fav) Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Chunk of Coal.”    

Sinner? (Johnny Cash)

Johnny was the sinner striking out towards redemption.    

There was a sadness in Cash: an ill-healed injury, a bruised history. Yet Cash wasn’t brow beat or beat down. He wasn’t ashamed or unwilling to change. Johnny Cash was a work in progress… he was “Us”. For all the hurt his voice conveyed there was also yearning, learning and hope.    

Before I heard Cash’s cover of Personal Jesus, I never saw the song as spiritual or even especially meaningful. It seemed, to me, to be more about SNARK than SPIRIT.   

With that voice like an open gash, Cash gave it gospel. Personal Jesus” was never meant to be a spiritual hymn or religious statement. Dave Gahan reportedly wrote the song about heroin, after battling a nasty addiction to the stuff. (Guess that explains the snark.)   

Saint? (DM's Dave Gahan)

For me, the Depeche Mode version elicits memories of an illicit afternoon of stolen sex with my high-school boyfriend who was supposedly my ex-boyfriend (who should have definitely stayed an ex.) He’d shown up with his shiny new CD, hot to trot, hopin’ to be my very own personal Jesus. While he sang along,  fancying himself as unholy savior, I sat there thinking A) This again? What am I doing? and B) He bettah not be thinkin’ he’s my personal Jesus. Until I finally busted out with “Y’know you’re really not” and he said, “Oooh, yes I am.”    

Let us take a moment to thank our blessed father who art in heavan, for it was Johnny Cash who took ultimate and final possession of “Personal Jesus.” Sorry DM fans, sorry MM* fans, but it’s true. “Personal Jesus” is Johnny’s. Always will be. Sorry ADC but you aren’t my personal Jesus. Never waz.    

Everyone must find something to give their life texture and meaning, be it Jesus or Johnny Cash. We’re all setting our own moral barometers and looking for guidance — in the pages of The Koran or in the pages of Nietzsche. Whether we find peace in ancient psalms or Ginsberg poems, we’re all in search of the joy that obliterates pain, the light that illuminates the dark.    

    

What is more personal than Jesus?    

Often, when someone’s found what they’re looking for, they’ll become convinced that they have what the rest of us need. But spirit is a private matter. No one can save another’s soul. Even those belting out “Jesus Loves Me” beneath the same rain-pelted church roof  are singing to their own singular versions of God’s first-born.    

Historian/Author Stephen Prothero explored the many-faced Jesus in his book American Jesus. The book examines how Jesus has affected our culture and how our culture has affected Jesus.    

No religious personality has captivated so many Americans for so long as Jesus. Indeed, as Boston University historian Prothero demonstrates in this sparkling and engrossing book, Jesus is the one religious figure nearly every American, whether Christian or not, past and present, has embraced. From Thomas Jefferson’s cut-and-paste Bible to Jesus Christ Superstar, from the feminized Christ of the Victorians to the “manly redeemer” of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, from Buddhist bodhisattva to Black Moses, Prothero surveys the myriad ways Americans have remade Jesus in their own image.    

(Publisher’s Weekly)      

    

Whether you view Jesus as a diety or not, there’s no denying that Jesus has become an American icon. Chances are, you too have your own personal Jesus. We should all have our own personal Jesus! Who doesn’t sometimes need to reach out and touch faith?    

Personal Jesus    

Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there    

Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer    

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith    

Your own Personal Jesus
Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Reach out and touch faith    

This video is beautifully done — sun-faded familial shots of Johnny & June intercut with raw b+w photos of haggard looking celebs. (Kris Kristofferson, Kieth Richards, Dennis Hopper, Billy Gibbons, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Chris Rock, Lisa Marie Presley, Travis Barker and Kid Rock.)    

   

Who or what does your Jesus look like? Who’s listening to your prayers? What do you reach for when you’re all alone, just flesh and bone by the telephone?   

I sometimes suspect that Johnny’s personal Jesus was June.    

    

After June died, after they buried her, the Robot Boy was reading the paper when tears welled up in his green eyes. I was… surprised.     

Wow, he said. Johnny’s not long for this world.    

RB passed the paper and pointed at a photo of Johnny Cash at June Carter Cash’s funeral. Cash, in a black suit and tie, was seated in a wheelchair; his face was graven and distant. A man was offering condolences, hand out-stretched, but Johnny saw right through him, as if he were in a whole other plane of existence. As if one or both of them were ghosts.    

They’ll be one of those couples, predicted RB. It won’t be long, now that June’s gone.    

And it wasn’t. It wasn’t long at all. I cried and cried the day Johnny died but having seen that picture, I’d say I was prepared. I could see the peace in it.    

    

*Marilyn Manson also covered “Personal Jesus.”    

The Holy Banana is from Stuff That looks Like Jesus, a gallery of one Jesus after another, whether in a dusty moth-wing or in the chocolatey layers of a kit kat candy bar.     

“Dead Characters” (the Jesus Big Boy painting) is by the ever-brilliant Mark Ryden.“Jesus with Desk Lamp” is by Branden Martz (just one of many amazing multi-media artworks on view at his website.) Expect to hear more about Mr. Martz!    

American Jesus by Stephen Prothero is available at Amazon.

SPOOKY KABUKI

Posted in SPOOKY KABUKI with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by alphabetfiend

Welcome to SPOOKY KABUKI — Alphabetfiend’s ode to Halloween. From now until the 31st these pages will be devoted to all things spellbinding. This blog is hereby haunted.

kabuki-1-1.jpg picture by plushied

Bonjour lover-lords, hello new creatures, welcome to SPOOKY KABUKI.

What is SPOOKY KABUKI?

It’s the ghost in the dark with the bone-white boo, the demon urge that calls to you, the childhood nightmare that still makes you shiver, the dark hallway of your heart that sets your brain a-shiver.

We’ll look at the pageantry of the season, the October summoning that lights up our psyche, the transformative power of fear. The wicked crossXbones allure of taboo & fantasy. The freedom of the mask. The scary of the clown. The beauty in the creepy. The razor blade in the chocolate bar. The affection of ghosts. The bumblebee in the spider’s web. It’ll be a far-reaching sugar buzz of eerie wonder.

We’ll tell ghost stories & play Exquisite Corpse. We’ll look at scary books, lurid television, spine tingling art, bone chilling music. We’ll feast on lady fingers and gulp ghostinis. I’ll scrawl a spell for you, on the inside flap of a Sugar Skull Hotel matchbook, and then someone will tell you “But there’s no such place!” You’ll say, “But she gave it to me, with the pale face, in the black lace.” You’ll turn to point me out but I’ll be gone.

Check in all week for tricks and treats.

Also listen to Spook Juke  — 100+ songs about death, blood, roses, murder, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, zombies, witches, bitches, homicidal cheerleaders, haunted houses, carnies, spiders on candy-striped legs and much more mayhem. Warren Zevon, Roky Erickson, Tom Waits, Cure, Concrete Blonde, MisFits, Johnny Cash, Beck, The White Stripes, Cat Power, Jace Everett, Judy Garland, Quintron & Miss Pussycat and countless other creeps.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in Art & Culture, Music & Life & Sundays, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by alphabetfiend

Some sad-sacks say this song is depressing but not me.   I think it’s breath-takingly beautiful.   A feeling doesn’t have to be “happy” to be worth something.  A Sunday doesn’t have to be “joyous” to be well, a SUNDAY.   I think this song — this “sad” song — is very life-affirming, very human, and very very AUSTIN.   It’s everything I’ve come to know and love about my life here in this stony Texas town…. Saturday nights spent with people I adore & music that moves me, drunken 6th street hugs as we all disperse after a great show.    Maybe in the morning you will feel achey or godless or lonely but that’s OK b/c you are an Austin punk-rock darling who loved Saturday too much and now Sunday is giving you the cold shoulder.   Have a smoke, eat an egg, enjoy being alive.   Make amends with Sunday.<BR><BR>See you next week for another installation of Punk Rock Gospel Blog… now go pick a handful of yer neighbors posies and see how easily Sunday forgives

Alphabetfiend is Dia VanGunten — a writer & wanna-be circus freak living in Austin, Texas.

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