Since my kids were tiny babies, they have fallen asleep to some sort of noise. In those first months of their lives, it was always the hum of my treadmill. (I use to put it on for nap times. Sometimes I wasn’t even on it. It just did the trick.) When we moved to our house, and the treadmill got demoted to the basement, I played music at bedtime. Specifically, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison album. (It’s my favorite.) His grandpa voice just sort of lulled them to sleep. It’s a funny thing, when your three year old daughter can sing Folsom Prison Blues word for word. My little girly girl singing, “I’m stuck in Folsom Prison...and time keeps draggin’ on...” Too funny!
Of all my Cash favorites, my very favorite song has to be Jackson. (I really like his songs with June Carter.) From the lyrics that sing, “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout...” (us) to the one up-ing the both of them do throughout their lover’s spat, it is all so real and wonderful. I remember my mom telling me a very long time ago, “the person you’ll love the most, he’ll also be the person who makes you the most angry.” I never understood that motherly advice until I was married. Maybe not even the first year of marriage, because we still had some degree of “Awwwww...you’re so cute. SWeeeeetiE!” (Often said through gritted teeth.) I understood that feeling after we’d been married a couple years...and , in the heat of an argument, I knew there was nothing to keep me from loving this guy. The same guy I wanted to
Back to my left arm. I’m not sure what my mom thought when I came home with Johnny on my arm forever. (She takes my tattoos surprisingly well for not being a tattoo enthusiast. But I can tell she gets a little squirmy. Just cause I know her so well.) But it isn’t for Cash. It isn’t for his music. Or his story. It is my tattoo for Phil. He is my worst argument. My best day. My only love. I might want to threaten him with Jackson sometimes. But he better be down there to meet me. Or I’ll kick his butt;).
So, friends, that is why I have Johnny Cash tattooed on my arm. It says much more to my heart than having Phil’s name inked somewhere. It’s like our inside story. (He has a tattoo for me, too. I’ll share someday. Might even take a pic if he says yes.) Cash’s music isn’t made beautiful by the melodies or the voice. Even the rhythm of those songs can be funky. Johnny Cash songs are beautiful to me because you can hear his soul. All of the struggles. The good, bad, and ugly. It all resonates in the words and the imperfect way it is sung. I love it. Because it is beautiful in the same way that life is beautiful. In the same way that love is really beautiful. He sounds honest and real and a little gritty.
So, if you ever see the four of us jamming like goofballs in the truck at a red light, chances are we are enjoying a good old Cash song. We all have a favorite. Some songs, we even have specific lines assigned to certain family members (yeah—we’ve crossed the line. It’s bad). I think we get the most fun out of Jackson, though. Someday, we might just have to take a trip there. Just for memory’s sake. The four of us. On that note....
That’s all she wrote...;)