Ten years ago today Johnny Cash passed away. While the official cause of death was listed as "complications from diabetes"; it seems fairly obvious that he died from a broken heart when he lost his wife, June Carter Cash less than four months prior. Johnny Cash was 71 when he passed away and he left behind an impressive list of accomplishments that go far beyond the well-known singer-songwriter label that Johnny is commonly associated with. I wrote about some of his accomplishments after my recent visit to the Johnny Cash Museum. With this writing I want to explore more of the legacy of Johnny Cash, not only his accomplishments, but his effect on the world since his passing. It has been ten years and a lot has happened during this time. Some pretty big and fairly well known posthumous happenings are:

  • "I Walk the Line" the movie was released November, 2005.
  • "Ring of Fire" the musical debuted March 2006
  • The release of "American V: A Hundred Highways" July, 2006
  • The release of "American VI: Ain't No Grave" February, 2010
  • The opening of the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, TN April, 2013

This list could go on and on with awards, mentions, movies, documentaries, cover tunes, etc., this list literally goes on and on and on. The history book being written of Johnny Cash's legacy is without end and will continue for generations to come. Why is this? Why does the legend and memory of Johnny Cash live on? I believe it is because at the end of the day, at the end of his life, the general message, image and lifelong contribution that Johnny Cash left us with was positive and constructive. Am I saying that Johnny Cash was perfect? Absolutely not! Johnny Cash had his faults and challenges like everyone else but he acknowledged them and even described himself as "the biggest sinner of them all". Isn't there something so positive that can be taken from a man who humbly admits his faults? The fact that he was famous makes it even that much more impressive. I recognize humility as a character trait desperately missing from so many people in today's culture. The world might be a better place if more people would ask themselves, "What would Johnny Cash Do?", perhaps they would learn to "Walk the Line" just like Johnny did.

All music aside, Johnny Cash was the real deal; a genuinely good person that understood "the road to happiness through love and charity". He didn't just sing about these things, I believe he practiced them in his daily life as well. I don't think his trip to Folsom Prison was just about the music. Do you? Maybe he wanted to connect with people where they were, in a relational way. I think it is impossible to fully measure the impact of influence that Johnny Cash had on others; however I think it is safe to say that more riches are found through intangible items like faith, hope, love and charity than in mere record sales alone. Those who knew Johnny Cash well also knew of his many charitable acts of kindness. This is another inspiring trait that so many of us could benefit from. Not only are we better people when we are helping and giving to others but we make the world a better place. In summary, ten years ago we lost a legend, but we didn't lose his legacy. The legend of Johnny Cash will live on forever as a positive and inspiring beacon to the world. So go enjoy your favorite Johnny Cash song today and think to yourself - "What Would Johnny Do"?

Johnny Cash

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