Learning From the Legacy of Johnny Cash

Lessons from the Man in Black

You don’t have to be from Nashville to appreciate country music or its rich history—and you certainly don’t have to be from here to understand the impact of the Man in Black on music.  I’ve only lived in the area for a little over four years, but I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash for as long as I can remember.

Of the many things that I learned in studying Johnny Cash, I want to share three that had an impact on me:

1. He pursued his dream. When he was about four years old, he heard a song on a Victrola.  Immediately, he knew that singing on the radio was his goal.  Nothing could stop his determination to make that dream a reality.

Make sure your dream is big enough to inspire you through difficulties.


Make sure your dream is big enough to inspire you through difficulties. -Skip Prichard


2. He was unique.  He was the master of style.  Almost always appearing in black, he communicated a style and a message with consistency and power.  Everything about him from his voice, his music, his personality and his dress communicated a unique brand.

Imitating others may help you get started, but real power comes from cultivating your own unique giftedness.


3. He had a powerful set of values guiding his path.  Though his rebellious persona was widely known, he became a deeply religious man and shared a close friendship with Reverend Billy Graham.  He loved God and his family.  Living out his values, he cared enough to be a voice for the oppressed and the poor.

Know your own true north.  What guiding principles will help you make decisions?  What you will not compromise no matter what along your journey.


Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash.  As the son of music legends June Carter and Johnny Cash, he needs little introduction.  He is the producer of Grammy award winning records and the executive producer of the movie Walk the Line.  He is also the author of several children’s books.  Recently, he has written a stunning new book, House of Cash, about his father’s life.  I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about growing up as a Cash and his father’s legacy.


House of Cash
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