Wednesday, November 15, 2006

167,000 of my best friends

As of this morning, Johnny Cash’s Myspace page has nearly 167,000 friends. That's more than the population of Tallahassee, Florida. Not bad for a man who died the summer Myspace was launched.

One way of proving your hip credentials is claiming to have loved someone before he was big. Well, I have to admit that I loved Johnny Cash after seeing him in a packed arena. No hip-points for me.

I am not sure why Cash is so popular. I love Cash, but it’s his person, not his music (not very interesting) or his voice (raspy baritone). Cash has the air of a survivor, of someone who didn’t waver, even when the hit-making machines hated him—and when he was producing awful music. People also love his love story with June—a countercultural love for its endurance.

Another aspect of the Johnny Cash phenomenon is his maturity. There is a really healthy movement in contemporary culture of increasing respect for old people. Johnny Cash acted his age, unlike, say, Mick Jagger, who is a dirty old man wishing he were a rakish young man.

Of course, it’s cool to dig an old person who’s on Myspace. Especially one we don't really know. What would be even more meaningful would be to rebuild relationships with the old people in our own lives.

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