Johnny Cash: The First Modern Goth?

Last night Rob and I were watching the best of The Johnny Cash Show, which aired on TV between 1969 and 1971. Really heavy years, right? Apparently one of the things which made it the most popular TV show at that time was the fact that he would have all kinds of guests on his show, from Ray Charles to Merle Haggard. He was an example of inclusion at a time of great division in American society.

I should say at the start that I don't really know very much about Johnny Cash aside from what I've seen in Walk the Line and music documentaries, and what I've read on the Internet. So maybe this is a discussion that's already happened.

But what I really noticed were some interesting characteristics about Johnny Cash I'd never picked up on. The first is his style. Okay, granted he is the Man in Black. But ruffled shirts? Cufflinks? Cravats? Bouffant hairdo? Where did this come from? I guess I'd always imagined him wearing cowboy clothing, but just black. But apparently Johnny was rather a dandy.

I also noticed the lyrics of his songs. Okay, the above is a perfect example. So many of his songs have this dark humor about them...

Finally, I observed his personality. He was very much a friend of the underdog and always called to mind the outcasts of society, reminding people of their humanity. He even projected himself at times as having been down on his luck and living on the edge and so on.

So all these things added up in my mind, and it came to me: Johnny Cash was goth before there ever was such a thing. Remember, this is 1969, 1970...rock as we know it was still in its infancy and punk was a twinkle in its eye...I think he set an example, a paradigm, for culture and music to come.

Curious to know other people's thoughts on this! Again, I disclaim any expertise on the man's history; maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see in this case.

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