Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Archive for the ‘Johnny Cash’ Category

Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan

September 21, 2010

Girl from the North Country

Written by Bob Dylan

A Dylan staple for over 45 years and covered by others “Girl from the North Country” can first seem like nothing more than a romantic remembrance of a past love, one told with great affection and telling detail. Yet this song is not as simple as it seems; it skirts the edge of sentimentality to resonate with a potent mix of desire, loss and longing not for a past love, but for meaning. It is not an easy song, refusing to wallow in the past and refusing to deny the loss of the love and a younger self. Nor does the song take the easy way out, refusing to conclude with familiar bromides or clichéd resolves. Instead, the song ends with an uneasy sense of how our present depends upon the past.

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Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

August 11, 2010

Falling in love, a simple and powerful idea, yet those words have been so overused that they’re stripped of meaning. From the opening mariachi horns, Johnny Cash wakes us up to the meaning of falling in love, of falling into that “ring of fire.” His voice, at once tough and desperate, conveys the truth of the experience, makes us understand that “love is a burning thing.”

Falling in love is not a deliberate act, not one we can pre-plan or guide. The heart goes and we follow. It’s a helpless feeling to want someone so much. In that early love, we don’t know what will happen, we don’t k now if the other loves us back or can ever feel the way we do about them. It is less a letting go, then a falling. No rational person would make that choice, and yet we can’t help ourselves. Johnny sings in that hard voice: