Say What? – Rosanne Cash and John Rich

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August 18, 2008

Rosanne Cash has issued a statement regarding recent use of her father’s name for political purposes:

It is appalling to me that people still want to invoke my father’s name, five years after his death, to ascribe beliefs, ideals, values and loyalties to him that cannot possibly be determined, and to try to further their own agendas by doing so. I knew my father pretty well, at least better than some of those who entitle themselves to his legacy and his supposed ideals, and even I would not presume to say publicly what I ‘know’ he thought or felt. This is especially dangerous in the case of political affiliation. It is unfair and presumptuous to use him to bolster any platform. I would ask that my father not be co-opted in this election for either side, since he is clearly not here to defend or state his own allegiance.

Her dignified response might be in regards to this statement by John Rich while performing at a John McCain rally:

Somebody’s got to walk the line in the country. They’ve got to walk it unapologetically.  And I’m sure Johnny Cash would have been a John McCain supporter if he was still around.

I think that Rosanne’s response strikes the perfect tone, since it doesn’t name names and appeals to both sides of the political aisle to refrain from speaking on her father’s behalf.   It’s dehumanizing to use him as a prop, a cheap attempt to give your point of view more credibility.

It reminds me of the old saying: “You can safely assume a man has recreated God in his own image when it turns out God hates all the same people he does.”   Cash the father and Cash the daughter are both worthy of emulating.  Rich should be trying to learn from them rather than putting his own words in Johnny Cash’s mouth.

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  1. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    I love Rosanne Cash. Even more now than I did before.

  2. J.T. says:

    If she was trying to get her father’s memory out of the political spotlight I don’t think this wasn’t the way to do it.

    I’m sure most people had no idea what John Rich said or cared and she could have reached out to him personally and just asked him not to speak for her father.

    Releasing this statement (which is on the front page of CMT) just makes it a bigger story then I’m sure the Cash family wanted it to be in the first place.

  3. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    A very dignified response from Rosanne! I’m not sure where John Rich gets the nerve to make such a bold assertion regarding Johnny Cash. Isn’t Rich the guy who wrote Jason Aldean’s “Johnny Cash”? I’m thinking Rich needs to go back and actually listen to some Cash music,, because for someone who likes to invoke Cash’s name so much, he really doesn’t seem as though he’s actually very aware of the man’s music.

  4. Philly JeffNo Gravatar says:

    Johnny Cash probably would have supported either McCain or Obama. He strikes me as a little Dolly Parton-ish on that front.

  5. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    What do you mean, Philly Jeff?

  6. Philly JeffNo Gravatar says:

    I recall watching her on some tv show several years ago, and she was asked about her political leanings. She responded that she was more patriotic than political (or something along those lines). I think Johnny Cash was like that – more patriotic than political, but the kind of guy who’d have played at the inaugural ceremony of either a Democractic or Republican president simply because they were the president of the United States.

  7. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    A dignified response from Rosanne. John Rich should know better but he somehow doesn’t.

  8. Chris N.No Gravatar says:

    @JT: So she’s supposed to let Rich’s statement — which I saw reported quite widely — stand? Wouldn’t that silence imply agreement?

  9. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Actually, I saw it reported in more than a couple of places as well.

  10. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    Rich would greatly benefit by picking up Mr. Cash’s second autobiography – ‘Cash’ – which he wrote in 1997. It is a great book of stories, anecdotes, and Johnny’s own view on America from his 60 years plus on earth. Much insight is to be gained by reading Johnny’s pages – over and over again, that’s what I did.

  11. John MagliteNo Gravatar says:

    Great post, Kevin. And I’m sure Hank Williams would think so, too.

  12. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Ha, John!

  13. Chris D.No Gravatar says:

    Somebody has to stand up to the hot air of John Rich. I’m glad Roseanne did. Maybe John’s big head will get a little smaller, but that may be asking too much.

  14. Chris N.No Gravatar says:

    Cash was against the Iraq war, so it would be difficult to imagine how he could have gotten behind someone who so vociferously pushed for it.

  15. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    I find myself saying this literally every time he makes some kind of public statement: John Rich is aggressively bad at talking. Seriously, I’m all for freedom of expression, but that man needs either a more assertive publicist or a muzzle.

    And on balance, I can’t say I’m at all surprised that Rosanne Cash issued a statement that reflects genuine class, grace, and humility. She’s an absolute treasure.

  16. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I think people are getting wound up over less than nothing. At the Democratic Convention to be convened shortly, I expect to hear the usual references to FDR, JFK and Thomas Jefferson and I suspect all three would be nauseated at the likely Democratic Party Platform of 2008.

    Similarly the Republican Convention will reference Reagan,Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and I doubt any of the three would be overly happy with what they see and hear

    So what ?

  17. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    Rosanne Cash has a right to release that statement, she is after all, his daughter. I’ve heard this cheesy line before but since Rich is a cheesy arrogant guy I figure I can:

    To John Rich: Don’t assume, because assuming makes an ass out of u and me. :P

  18. JaneNo Gravatar says:

    Very classy of Roseanne to release that statement. It’s sad that she has to do it though. People should not be making assumptions about what party someone (who is not here to defend themsevles) supports.

    Paul, I think it’s different when it involves people who were actually members of the parties and the face of that party at one time. They’re apart of that party’s history.

  19. I think Rosanne’s always championed the man her father was rather than the myth. She wrote two masterpieces about her father. Everybody talks about “September When it Comes” from 2003, but her song “My Old Man” from 1985 is even more powerful.

    “The old man’s crying tonight. He just wants to go home. All these people who stand in his way. Why won’t they leave him alone?”

  20. I’d add to Paul, it’s not “people” who are getting “messed up over less than nothing.” It’s his daughter.

    If somebody was putting words in my late father’s mouth, my statement would be a lot less tactful than Rosanne’s.

  21. Craig R.No Gravatar says:

    I think John Rich’s statement is a part of a bigger problem in country. The bigger problem is that there are many country acts that believe that the mere mention of Cash or Parton or Lynn or Jones or Willie or Waylon in their song, statement or attitude makes them an heir. Even Cash’s own heir won’t speak for him!

    John Rich probably never met Johnny Cash which means he is speaking for an image and not a man. Since country music today is all about image that does not shock me. Cash was a real man with real problems, real feelings, and real thoughts. Rich hasn’t once come across as anything but attitude. And country music is full of attitude these days. That is what any immature, fame seeeking child would present because they don’t have enough talent to be themselves.

    It also shows a true lack of understanding of Cash’s music. John Rich has defined Cash by attitude and image without realizing, or caring, that Cash built those things from real experiences. Cash wasn’t Cash from the start. He grew into being Johnny Cash. It would serve John Rich to grow too- at least to just grow up.

  22. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    As said above, the Republican and Democratic candidates invoking the names of past political figures is quite different than John Rich invoking the name of Johnny Cash to make political gains. At least the candidates and their pundants’ comparisons makes sense in that they’re making comparisons within the realm of politics while John Rich’s ascertion seemingly comes out of nowhere. Despite the fact that I have absolutely no idea what evidence he has to back up his claims about Cash’s potential political leaning toward McCain, he has absolutely no credibility when it comes to Johnny Cash at all. What connection does he have with Johnny? It would have been one thing if he made that sort of statement among friends or family, but at a political rally? That’s just ridiculous and explitative. Why exploit someone that you supposedly respect?

  23. Craig R. said,

    “Cash was a real man with real problems, real feelings, and real thoughts. Rich hasn’t once come across as anything but attitude.”

    And Craig R. hit the nail on the head.

  24. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Johnny Cash was the best kind of American, in my humble opinion–one who was proud of this great nation, but one who also realized that it can always be better; and he always expressed that kind of pragmatism in his songs. And given that this is something that must have gone over John Rich’s ten-gallon Stetson, Rosanne was more than right to set the record of her father straight.

  25. Erik,

    In the immortal words sung by Conway Twitty and quite applicable here: “Don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.” John Rich is the very definition of all hat, no cattle.

  26. [...] Johnny’s daughter, Roseanne Cash, really put it best. It is appalling to me that people still want to invoke my father’s name, five years after his [...]

  27. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    This is the thing that bothers me the most about those with right wing points of view like John Rich. They never stop to consider that the truth about people or issues is rarely, if ever, delineated along lines of black and white, because it is usually some place in between. That’s precisely what he got wrong about Johnny Cash, in my opinion.

  28. Erik,
    To be fair though, there are a lot of columnists and bloggers out there, including the writer of the original article, who have implied or said straight out that Cash is a liberal and would’ve more likely have been for Obama.

    That’s why I really appreciated Rosanne’s appeals to both sides of the aisle to refrain from speaking on her father’s behalf.

    I relate to it, too. I’m pretty sure my dad would be for McCain, as he voted for him in 2000, but he also voted for Hillary twice. I can’t imagine him switching over for Obama, but I can’t say it wouldn’t have happened, either.

  29. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar says:

    If there is a more eloquent, classy ambassador for country music than Rosanne Cash, I have not been made aware of that person.

    J.R. Journey is spot on. The Cash autobiography shows that his political opinions, just like his musical efforts, are much more diverse than is often reported.

    As he noted in the same biography, he had a special connection to Rosanne, though he loved all his children equally. They share an ability to show humility and intelligence but also strength of character.

  30. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    All this goes to show that you can have a name like Rich, and still not have any Cash (LOL).

  31. M. Anthony PaulNo Gravatar says:

    A fantastic stroke of brilliance, Mr. North!
    I couldn’t have said it better!

  32. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Ha ha, Eric. *rolling eyes just a little:)*

  33. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    And here’s a good suggestion for Big and Rich’s next album. Since Mr. Rich is so presumptuous about Johnny Cash, how about he and Big Kenny doing a live prison album, like the Man In Black did in ’68 and ’69 to great success?

    And here’s the keeper: How about doing this live album at a place called Gitmo?

  34. Treva MurphyNo Gravatar says:

    Rosanne is proof that acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Where are you at, Rosanne? We need your music. I am so tired of songs that insult my intelligence, and have the IQ of Rich’s hat with him in it. I just want to hear a great country song again like the ones you and your dad did. People have posted partial song lyrics of yours and your fathers, and those lyrics are richer and deeper than anything I’ve heard in 5 years in country music top 40.

  35. PaigeNo Gravatar says:

    I think many, Mr. Rich included, assume because Johnny Cash was deeply religious that he must have been a Republican – NOT. Johnny Cash had a long history of championing the cause of the oppressed and those the government (this administration in particular) chose to neglect. Johnny was a supporter of Jimmy Carter and adamently opposed to this war, so where does Mr. Rich draw the conclusion that he would vote for the man who has pledged to stay in Iraq 100 more years if necessary? He draws this conclusion because he is ill informed and thought he would sound cool, well he didn’t!

    Rosanne’s message is spot on – even she does not presume to know who her father would support (although I’m sure in actuality she has a pretty good idea!). Invoking Johnny Cash to add credibility to your beliefs is ill-informed and reckless. Shame on you Mr. Rich!

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