Dear Johnny Cash
Dear Mr. Cash,
I’m writing this letter today for two reasons. I really want to thank you, and I owe you an apology.
First off, let me just say, Mr. Cash, that the Schrocks are big fans. After we watched that movie about you, which I think you would’ve liked, my own Mr. Schrock went out and bought the soundtrack right along with one of your CDs.
I can never listen to that without tapping my toes and singing along. I just can’t do it. Every single time, I’m transported to another time and another place. I remember your roots as I’m singing the words, and that’s why I want to thank you.
Your story is inspiring, Mr. Cash. You were born into hardship, weren’t you? Your family was dirt poor, and you were knocked around. A lot. But you had a gift, Mr. Cash. Oh, you had a gift.
For a girl who has a chest full of hopes and dreams of her own, people like you inspire me. Your story says once more that with hard work, some natural talent, and a never-give-up spirit (and, I might add, a tiny seed of faith), anything is possible.
Your life teaches me some sobering lessons, too, about where fame and fortune can take you. Success can be a minefield, can’t it? And that’s why walking with wisdom and listening to the One True Voice is so critical. Living any other way is a dangerous proposition.
On a lighter note, though, it would make you happy to know that one of your biggest fans is a four-year-old. That would be mine. He can sing “Walk the Line” and “Train of Love,” but his favorites really are “Guess Things Happen That Way” and “There You Go.” He plays these over and over and over until I have to stop his little finger from hitting that “back” arrow one more time. That’s how much he loves your music.
I knew we were in deep weeds the day I heard your tunes blasting in the house. From outside. Where three of the boys were allegedly cleaning out the family van. I cringed, waiting for someone in the neighborhood to bawl, “TURN THAT THING DOWN,” but it never happened. I’d like to think that inside, they were tapping their own toes and singing along, too.
I have to apologize, though, for what Boy Two has done to your song, “Luther Played the Boogie.” Why, just the other night, I was tapping away at my keyboard upstairs. They were playing your CD, and all of a sudden I heard Rodney Rathbone singing “Luther.”
Who’s Rodney, you ask? Well, he’s a whiny, snotty bully on their favorite story series, Adventures in Odyssey. Lately, B2 has perfected what we call his “Rodney” voice, so when out of the blue “Rodney Rathbone” is whining out “Luther Played the Boogie,” all full of trills and quavers and really obnoxious tones, I couldn’t help it. I laughed. Well, actually, I howled like an African hyena, it sounded so crazy. We weren’t trying to be disrespectful, Mr. Cash, we really weren’t. But it was just so funny, I couldn’t help it.
Somehow, I think that years hence, that goofy show will be resurrected at a family gathering for his children and nieces and nephews, and the whole pack of us will howl again. I really hope you don’t mind.
I would like to think that someday, my work will outlast me just like yours has outlasted you. That’s a beautiful thought, and it motivates me to pour my heart and soul into the thing that I’ve been called to do.
Thank you again, Mr. Cash, for sharing your gift with the world and for inspiring the rest of us to keep dreaming, to work hard, and to never give up.