Saturday, January 18, 2014

This Is Your Song For....January 18th, 2014: I Feel Better All Over by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is gleefully holding a kitten.  Your
argument is no longer valid.
Welcome back.  Today we’ve got one of the Universal Signifiers Of Musical Excellence.

And I’m not really joking.  No matter how you feel about country music--I feel it’s okay, but has lost its way in the last few decades, becoming little more than the equivilent of modern R&B for people who like to wear trucker caps and flannels--almost everyone likes Johnny Cash...and Johnny, who wore black to show his solidarity for migrant farm workers, who played concerts in prison, and who in the twilight of his life devoted several albums to proving that every genre has a country side, would have had it no other way.  He was a man who used his music to espouse his Christian beliefs (primary amongst them the inherent dignity of all men) quietly and without fanfare.  He’s somebody I greatly admire because he used his fame as a tool for social change, caring for it for what he could do with it rather than what it could bring him.

This is, admittedly, a piece of fluff from a compilation album of his love songs, but you can’t deny the way the arrangement just lifts you up.  It’s very honkey-tonk, very upbeat (notice how the melody just keeps building and building throughout, only hitting a downbeat at the very end), and with Johnny’s unique vocalization giving it a warmth and intimacy it probably doesn’t earn.  Yeah, the song’s message boils down to ‘hey, I like having you around,’ but the way Johnny gives the title line a big ol’ shout at the 1:20 mark gives the song a little extra shot of life.  There’s no doubt who you’re listening to, and no doubt who he’s writing about, and you can’t not feel good listening to it. Plus--only two minutes and three seconds, which means it gets on stage, tells you its message, then gets off...and in the world of four minute pop songs that degrade into the title being repeated ninety times on the back end, there’s something to be said for that.

Here's the song!

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