Johnny Cash apparently believed that he was of Cherokee ancestry, and this later turned out not to be the case. Had he known it wasn’t true, would he have made this album, I wonder? I think it’s an intriguing question: how much does the actual blood matter? If you were told it, and grew up believing it, and identifying with that culture, would it make a difference if your DNA later proved otherwise? I’m not claiming to know the answer…
But I think that ‘Bitter Tears: Johnny Cash sings the Ballads of the American Indian’ is an extraordinary album, full of visceral anger about the unjust treatment of Native Americans through America’s history.
Not being from that culture, I’m not in any position to say how authentically he managed to express that injustice. But it makes me much more fascinated about Cash, and about that ‘Highwaymen’ era of Country music, when these icons of this most patriotic of genres really took their country to the fucking cleaners.
Well worth checking out.
Current Favourite Track:
“Now I will tell you buster, that I ain’t a fan of Custer…”