Favorite

Cash rules everything 

The Observer's friend Mr. Photographer got over to Dyess a while back to shoot some pictures of the restored childhood home of the late singer Johnny Cash. It's a beaut now, restored back to the way it looked when the Cash family first moved in during the darkest days of the Great Depression, complete with period furnishings inside.

It's a far cry from when The Observer first saw it several years ago, a crumbling shack at the wavering and muddy edge of a soybean patch, appointed by a gnarled tree under a wool overcoat of sky. Considering the condition it was in — peeling white paint and plentiful rot, with red trim that looked like it had been painted with a sock on a stick — and the fact that what had once been one of a whole row of identical frame houses on the dirt road, all of which had long since been ground under to make room for the plows, it's kind of a miracle it survived at all.

The Observer and Mr. Photographer went out there with a representative from the Arkansas Department of Heritage, who was then working on getting the money together to buy and restore the sad little house where a giant found his voice. She introduced us to the old gent who had lived there for decades, and who really saved the house, such as it was, from oblivion. Things fall apart. And they fall apart very quickly if there's not a person there to at least patch the roof and put a piece of cardboard over the broken windows. We followed him inside. While broke down and shabby, the magic was still there. For a Cash fan like Yours Truly, standing in the middle of that little room was a very strange sensation. You could almost hear the train a'comin', rollin' round the bend.

The Observer still has a picture of our self standing on the leaning and decrepit porch of that house, all smiles in our coat, the old gent in the background, Your Correspondent looking so heavy that Future Me sometimes fears Past Me will plummet through the rotten porch and thus contribute to the house's further decrepitude.

We haven't been back since the restoration was completed, but we should. You should, too, especially if you've ever been moved by The Man in Black. There's ghosts there, kids. Not the kind you're thinking of here on the cusp of Halloween. But there's ghosts there all the same.

A Cash-related addendum. Flicking through the Internet one night earlier this year, we discovered an old novelty country record released in 1970 and titled "Singing Rice-ipes." Recipes, in other words, all having to do with rice, and all made into country songs. The track titles included "Texarkana Rice," "Sunnyside Rice," "Cripple Creek Casserole" and "Houston Hash." And the voice on the record sounded unmistakably like Johnny Cash's voice.

It's a strange find, a goofy vestige of the pop radio-jingle era. "They scream and shout when he brings it out, that Texarkana Rice," Cash sings. The whole project was sponsored by the rice company Riviana, and we enjoyed it better than we thought we should have, given its corporate provenance. The real mystery, of course, is why Cash would have done something like this. We knew times got bad for him — we've read the stories of him taking an axe to a hotel room wall, or prying open someone else's dashboard with a crowbar. He had a roller-coaster of a relationship with methamphetamines. Could that have been the culprit? Could he have been so geeked up or desperate that a rice commercial eventually struck him as a good idea?

Well, no. As it turns out — when we finally got around to reading the fine print — the voice on the record wasn't Cash's, it was that of a Cash impersonator. In our defense, he's a good one.

So what I want to know is, what was a Johnny Cash impersonator doing making a record about rice? And maybe more importantly — and more mysteriously — what the hell was I doing enjoying it?

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • The sweet hereafter

    This week, the Arkansas Times falls back on that oldest of old chestnuts: a recipe issue. Being who we are, of course, we had to put a twist on that; namely, the fact that most of the recipes you'll find in these pages are courtesy of people who have shuffled off to that great kitchen in the sky, where the Good Lord is always whipping up new things in his toque and apron, running the great mixers of genetics and time, maybe presenting the batter-dipped beaters and bowls to Jesus for a lick down.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • On Walmart and state money

    No they don't need state help. Any conservative legislator who is true to their tea party principles will crow on about crony capitalism. I look forward to deafening silence.
    • Sep 21, 2017

Latest in The Observer

  • Nosotros

    Even after all these years and all these words, The Observer is still a little mystified when something we write — our compassion, our outrage, our indignation and especially our beautiful capacity for loving people we've never met and don't know from Jack Johnson — seems to touch the hot wire of human hearts.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • If

    If you can, cast your mind back to when you were very young and recall what it felt like to be separated from your mother and father.
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Searching for Archie

    The Observer doesn't watch a lot of TV unless it's the killer robots on "Westworld" or the killer sexyfolk on "Game of Thrones." We did, however, want to weigh in on the "Roseanne" horse puckey. You're already turning the page, aren't you? Stay thy hand and stay awhile, traveler. This might be, dare we say it, important.
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Judge restores right to medication abortion

    For more than two weeks, all women in Arkansas, and Arkansas alone, were denied access to a two-pill regimen to end an early pregnancy in the privacy of their homes. But Monday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the law, Act 577 of 2015, and Arkansas women once again had access to a method of abortion available nationwide.
  • Health care exec put on leave

    Matches description of anonymous person described in Cranford guilty plea agreement.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation