Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

From what I’ve read, Johnny Cash was never much for playing golf. It’s rumored he owned a house on a course in Jamaica and would give out golf balls to the local kids, but never took up the game.That saddened me a bit. He was such a legendary artist that maybe he devoted so much to his true craft, he just didn’t have the time. You think jilted love could conjure up a good song….let’s talk nasty 3 footers for par, that’s real heartache and some fine material for a ballad. The other day, I was listening to his music while I made my way around the course and the thought struck me….kind of sideways actually, how relatable his music is to golf. Now, don’t take this as a literal account, just sit back and try to absorb some of the symbolic imagery, a portrait painted that could so easily be applied to my favorite past time. So here we go…dance the satirical dance with me.

Ring of Fire

Is there a better symbol for the ironic love song, Ring of Fire? I know this may border on blasphemy, but seriously listen to the words that great man was singing. “Bound by wild desire, I fell into a burning Ring of Fire”, classic words, a salient portrayal of true love. Yet, isn’t that some scary imagery? One could just as aptly construe images of hellfire and brimstone. I think if I really appreciated what he was saying, I’d taken a second or two to make sure I was REALLY sure about making that move….hope the wife doesn’t read this, that fire could get hot. Carrying over the symbolic revelry to golf is easy with a simple imaginative adjustment. I can remember clearly the day I fell into that burning Ring of Fire. When golf grabbed a hold of my sensibilities bringing a child like euphoric jubilation as the day progressed. The smell of the grass, the sound of metal spikes on a cart path, the muted crack of a ball flushed on the head of an old persimmon wood….the lure set deep in the jaw. The draw…more of a snap hook those days…a relentless need or desire to get better at an insanely maddening endeavor. Golf, the Godzilla of all the great games in the world. Often, “The taste of love is sweet, when hearts like ours meet”. Yes, it’s true, it burns, that Ring of Fire, it burns burns burns…..dang it. As I made my way up the fairway with the chorus filling the air, golf for me is that Ring of Fire, as you get sucked deeper and deeper in this life long pursuit to be better than yesterday. Other guys have football, gambling, beer with the guys…for that matter some have actual girlfriends, but I digress. For me, golf is the most satisfying of avocations.

Folsom Prison Blues

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”…there isn’t a better line in all of music. Teeing up a pretty new Titleist Pro V trying to make that par 3 island green, only to watch it fall short into the lake. Didn’t I do it subconsciously knowing I was going to watch it’s slow motion demise? I know better than to play with guns, but I can’t help myself. When your stuck at work and you haven’t been out for a while…I think of Folsom Prison… just wanting to feel that sunshine. The last time I felt the claustrophobia of prison on the golf course was during a tournament I played in recently. Trapped in a proverbial Folsom Prison as a tallied a truly horrific 9 on a par 5. 9s are only good when you are dating, never ever are they good on the golf course….even if your opponent shoots a 10….a 9 is still awful. I definitely would hop the train and get as far away from that trauma as you can, on down to Reno if you can.

I Walk the Line

If ever a song exemplified golf, it’s “I Walk the Line”. My favorite verse flows like eloquent poetry: Sure as night is dark and day is light, I keep you on my mind both day and night, and happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right, because your mine I walk the line.  Come on man, it’s like a channel to the great beyond, gives me goosebumps. Staying true to yourself and the game, never wandering from your passion, never to be soured by the sweets of another. A referendum for marriage and a schematic for our lives as golfers. Cheating golf, like cheating your true love, no winners in that scenario. The sentiment is beautiful and Johnny brings it home with that folksy bravado that only his voice could deliver. Next time you think to drop that stroke by means of a pencil, think of what it really means to walk that line in golf. Keep it real.

A Boy Named Sue

Ever stand on the tee of a long par 5, addressing the ball, feeling the need to really bust it deep? Ah, a little bit of a complex, “A Boy Named Sue”…..well there you have it. Summon that “gravel in your in gut and the spit in your eye” and give it a go. How’s the line go, “He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile”, what legend. Colorful mosaic imagery driving home the toughness of the man. I think it works for both sexes, it’s an equal opportunity musing if you possess just the right kind of imagination. Sometimes the course will give you a rotten lie, most certainly a bad bounce or two. Take those as a time to grow and improve, opportunities for success. If you fix that lie and make it perfect or shuffle the foot wedge when no one is looking, you will never make real improvements in your scoring. That boy named Sue could have wilted to the cards dealt, instead he used the misfortune in a name to be further impetus to be better. Nowadays you can’t slug a guy for some derogatory slight, but you can certainly best him within the domain of the fairway. This song is one for the rafters.

Summing Things Up

Again, this isn’t an serious exhaustive examination of the music of Johnny Cash and golf. Just a little peek behind the curtain into the evolution of the slightly bizarre meanderings of a crazy person. Maybe I shouldn’t walk alone when practicing, should probably have a handler or something to make sure I stay on task. Medication certainly is in my future. Next time your out for that casual round and you need a little music to move you along, pull up a Johnny Cash playlist. Some legends live forever, I can’t help but believe Johnny Cash will continue to move people for decades to come. This was a fun little exercise, almost as fun as watching a Matthew Mcconaughey Lincoln car commercial, but not quite. Can’t compete with cinematic genius, this is after all just a blog. Hit ‘em straight, cheers.

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Brian Clay - October 14, 2015

“What model is it? Well it’s 49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59 automobile.” Great post as always! Keep it going!


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