"Question Three is simple: Why do I always wear black?
Strictly speaking, I don’t. When I’m not in the public eye I wear whatever I want. I still wear black on stage though, for a couple of reasons.
First there’s the song “Man in Black,” which I wrote in 1971. I had my network TV show at the time, and so many reporters were asking me Question Two [How do I write songs?] that I saw an opportunity to answer with a message. I wore the black, I sang, “for the poor and beaten down, livin’ in the hopeless hungry side of town.” I wore it “for the prisoner who has long paid his crime, but is there because he’s the victim of the times.” I wore it for “the sick and lonely old” and “the reckless whose bad trip left them cold.” And, with the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans’, I wore it “in mournin’ for the lives that could have been. Each week we lose a hundred fine young men. I wear it for the thousands who have died, believin’ that the Lord was on their side.”
The last verse summed it up:
Well, there’s things that never will be right, I know.
And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
But until we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You’ll never see me wear a suit of White.
Oh, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything’s okay,
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
Till things are brighter, I’m the Man in Black.
Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don’t see much reason to change my position today. The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we’re not making any moves to make things right. There’s still plenty of darkness to carry off.”
-Johnny Cash in Cash (p.63)
I was talking with a friend of mine about this the other day: that country life as I knew it might really be a thing of the past and when music people today, performers and fans alike, talk about being “country,” they don’t mean they know or even care about the land and the life it sustains and regulates. They’re talking more about choices—a way to look, a group to belong to, a kind of music to call their own. Which begs the question: Is there anything behind the symbols of modern “country,” or are the symbols themselves the whole story? Are the hats, the boots, the pickup trucks, and the honky-tonking poses all that’s left of a disintegrating culture? Back in Arkansas, a way of life produced a certain kind of music. Does a certain kind of music now produce a way of life? Maybe that’s okay. I don’t know.
Perhaps I’m just alienated, feeling the cold wind of exclusion blowing my way. The “country” music establishment, including “country” radio and the “Country” Music Association, does after all seem to have decided that whatever “country” is, some of us aren’t.
I wonder how many of those people ever filled a cotton sack. I wonder if they know that before I became “not country” in the ’90s, their predecessors were calling me “not country” in the ’50s and the ’60s, and the ’70s too (I was invisible in the ’80s)."
Johnny Cash in Cash
How many times have you tried to talk to someone about something that matters to you, tried to get them to see it the way you do? And how many of those times have ended with you feeling bitter, resenting them for making you feel like your pain doesn’t have any substance after all?
Like when you’ve split up with someone, and you try to communicate the way you feel, because you need to say the words, need to feel that somebody understands just how pissed off and frightened you feel. The problem is, they never do. “Plenty more fish in the sea,” they’ll say, or “You’re better off without them,” or “Do you want some of these potato chips?” They never really understand, because they haven’t been there, every day, every hour. They don’t know the way things have been, the way that it’s made you, the way it has structured your world. They’ll never realise that someone who makes you feel bad may be the person you need most in the world. They don’t understand the history, the background, don’t know the pillars of memory that hold you up. Ultimately, they don’t know you well enough, and they never can. Everyone’s alone in their world, because everybody’s life is different. You can send people letters, and show them photos, but they can never come to visit where you live.
Unless you love them. And then they can burn it down."
Michael Marshall Smith, Only Forward
"I was drawn to all the wrong things: I liked to drink, I was lazy, I didn’t have a god, politics, ideas, ideals. I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. I didn’t make for an interesting person. I didn’t want to be interesting, it was too hard. What I really wanted was only a soft, hazy space to live in, and to be left alone."
"For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."
"Do you suppose it’s so much easier to make conversation with someone you already know well than with someone you don’t know at all primarily because of all the previously exchanged information and shared experiences between two people who know each other well, or because maybe it’s only with people we already know well and know know us well that we don’t go through the awkward mental process of subjecting everything we think of saying or bringing up as a topic of light conversation to a self-conscious critical analysis and evaluation that manages to make anything we think of proposing to say to the other person seem dull or stupid or banal or on the other hand maybe overly intimate or tension-producing?"
David Foster Wallace
"Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. “Patriotism” is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by “patriotism” I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one’s own nation, which is the concern with the nation’s spiritual as much as its material welfare—never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes love for others is not love, love for ones country which is not part of ones love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship."
Erich Fromm, The Sane Society
"The ontological fallacy of expecting a light at the end of the tunnel, well, that’s what the preacher sells, same as a shrink. See, the preacher, he encourages your capacity for illusion. Then he tells you it’s a fucking virtue. Always a buck to be had doing that, and it’s such a desperate sense of entitlement, isn’t it? Surely, this is all for me. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I’m so fucking important then, right?"
Rust Cohle, True Detective
Hart: I mean, can you imagine if people didn’t believe? The things they’d get up to?
Cohle: The exact same thing they’d do now - just out in the open.
Hart: Bull. Shit. It’d be a fuckin’ freakshow of murder and debauchery and you know it.
Cohle: If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother, that person is a piece of shit. And I’d like to get as many of them out in the open as possible.
Hart: I guess your judgment is infallible, “piece of shit-wise.” You think that notebook is a stone tablet?
Cohle: What’s it say about life? Hm? You gotta get together, tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe just to get through the goddamn day? Nah. What’s that say about your reality, Marty?"
Rust Cohle, True Detective
I think about my daughter now and what she was spared. Sometimes I feel grateful. The doctor said she didn’t feel a thing, went straight into a coma. Then, somewhere in that blackness, she slipped off into another deeper kind. Isn’t that a beautiful way to go out, painlessly as a happy child?
Trouble with dying later is you’ve already grown up, the damage is done, too late.
I think about the hubris it must take to yank a soul out of nonexistence into this… Force a life into this thresher.
As for my daughter, she spared me the sin of being a father."
Cohle in True Detective
"Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. What does it profit a man to be able to attend an integrated school when he doesn’t earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?" -MLK Jr
"Why are there forty million poor people in America? When you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy." -MLK Jr
"A smart woman does need a smart man, whether he’s a math genius or a plumber or a plumber who also happens to be a math genius. The biggest mistake you can make, in my opinion, is marrying someone who maybe loves your body and your face and the idea of you, but doesn’t actually enjoy hearing words drop out of your fat mouth. If you don’t feel intellectually matched and understood and met, then you should move on. The people I know who married bad intellectual matches for them are pretty fucking restless."
"I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family."