Ring of Firewater

We were wincing through a disc by a newish singer/songwriter recently, and decided that a singer/songwriter has only two real job requirements: 1) sing; 2) write songs. This songbird had the warbling part down, and ´nuff said. Now consider Johnny Cash, singer/songwriter nonpareil. The Man in Black sang like a Baptist preacher with throat cancer, but who cares? Warbling songbirds of the world take note: The crucial part of "singer/songwriter" is "songwriter."

One of Cash's best-known songs provided the title and impetus for a recent Hollywood blockbuster, and also for the new book I Walked the Line: My Life With Johnny. Co-written by Ann Sharpsteen and Cash's first wife, the late Vivian Liberto Distin, the tome is based on letters Johnny and Vivian exchanged pre-marriage -- before Cash lapsed into alcohol and drug addiction. According to Sharpsteen, it bars no holds in its examination of the "true" Cash: "The letters really reveal the real man, unclouded by drugs. It's like reading someone's diary."

Mon., Sept. 10, 7 p.m.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Clay McNear
Contact: Clay McNear