March 25th, 2010


CD-a-Day: Still Hurt Edition

Johnny Cash: American IV The Man Comes Around

This is the last Cash CD released before the man passed away, and the first one I bought. Certainly not the last I will buy, I'm sure. Johnny lead a life filled with mistakes, success, pain and forgiveness...but who doesn't? He is not unique, and I think he knew it. He just had a way of expressing his humanity in song that touched lives. Mine included, especially here. The title track is a warning, and the cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is a confession. One of the most sincere confessions I've ever heard.

Track 5 was written by Sting, and is called "I Hung my Head". Ostensibly, it's about a man who accidentally shoots another. I hear it as an analogy for pride and the dangers of wielding power carelessly. The voice takes his brother's rifle on a morning "with time to kill" and draws a bead on a lone rider to practice his aim. The gun fires and the man is killed, leaving the shooter scared, guilty and running from his responsibility. Instead of confessing or seeking help, he leaves the gun and runs south, hiding from the law, hoping it will "go away". He is caught and sentenced to hang, his sorrow unabated and his responsibility compounded by his carelessness and cowardice to face those he wronged.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches about reconciliation:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

It is irresponsible to wield power playfully without a thought of the possibility of hurting others. You don't randomly throw a rock into a pack of dogs and then blame the dog that yelps for not being prepared to be hit by a careless throw.