Michael Stewart Foley has been writing about music and Johnny Cash for a long time. His new book, Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash, looks at the politics of the Man in Black, who had the unique ability to appeal to Democrats and Republicans even when the country was hideously divided. What was the source of his appeal?
Cash was by no measure an ideologue, but he became an internationally known figure who championed causes such as Native American rights, prisoners, and men in uniform. Cash practiced what Dr. Foley calls the “politics of empathy.” And while Cash was more political than many artists of his day, some didn’t think he was political enough.
Colin and Michael talk not just about Cash but his musical and political times, discussing everything from Cash and Vietnam to his competitors Merle Haggard and Bobby Bare, artists with a distinctly blue collar bent. Cash grew up in the cotton fields of rural Arkansas, and he never lost his love for his country or the salt of the earth people who were a part of his history and fan base.