Man in black laid to rest

Music legend Johnny Cash was remembered at his funeral as a man who cared for the downtrodden and kept his dignity while struggling with demons. “He was so modest and humble, and so willing to live with his pain and not make anybody else pay for it,” said daughter Rosanne Cash during the 21/2-hour service Monday. The private event at First Baptist Church will be followed by a public memorial still being planned. A service for Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, was held at the same church after her death in May. Cash, 71, died Friday of respiratory failure caused by complications from diabetes. His death followed years of precarious health. More than 1,000 mourners listened to tributes from Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, preacher Franklin Graham, former Vice President Al Gore, and other family members and friends. Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow performed two songs, “The Old Rugged Cross” and Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand.” Kristofferson called Cash “Abraham Lincoln with a wild side,” a nod to the singer’s dual reputations as a champion of the poor, prisoners, and other underdogs, and decades-long battle with drug addiction. “Cowboy” Jack Clement, an engineer and producer who had been friends with Cash since the 1950s, read a poem about Cash that said in part: “It takes a good man to take success and not misplace his soul.” Cash’s career stretched from rockabilly hits like “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Get Rhythm” in the 1950s to his renditions of rock songs in recent years like “Hurt,” by Nine Inch Nails. In between, he was one of country music’s biggest stars, scoring dozens of hits like “A Boy Named Sue,” “Man in Black” and “It Ain’t Me Babe,” a duet with Carter Cash on a Dylan song. “There was something about Johnny Cash that went beyond the music,” Gore said. “There were hundreds of millions all over the world who felt a connection with Johnny Cash. … He felt deeply for people, those who didn’t have jobs or were suffering in any way.” Cash, known as “The Man in Black” for his preferred attire, said in a hit song that he wore the color in honor of the poor and oppressed. Famous and not-so-famous members of the Cash and Carter clans wept, with Cash’s body set in a black coffin at the front of the church. Many musicians who owed their start to Cash attended, including the Statler Brothers, Larry Gatlin and the Oak Ridge Boys. Also paying their respects were Vince Gill, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Dunn and actress Jane Seymour. As the service came to end, country singer Gatlin addressed his own son, Joshua Cash Gatlin, from the pulpit: “Son, this man fed your mama and me when we couldn’t afford food. He paid rent for us when we couldn’t pay rent.” After the death of Carter Cash, Cash spent most of his time recording, leaving more than 30 songs yet to be released. He had planned to attend the MTV Video Music Awards shortly before his death, but couldn’t because of illness. His video for “Hurt” won an award for cinematography at that show, and he has four nominations at the Country Music Association Awards in November.

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