It was a hot, sweaty, summer night in the 1960s.
The performers were in town for a show at a local high school gymnasium, another stop on the long dusty trail for touring musicians, riding steel horses.
As townsfolk filled the place and the air became electric with anticipation, band members realized their star was missing.
One of the band members, Tommy, started walking the halls and looking in classrooms searching for his brother. The last place he looked was the boys' locker room. And that's where he found his older brother Johnny, walking slowly, peering deliberately into each of the mesh-wire lockers.
Tommy noticed Johnny was also holding a rolled-up $100 bill.
"What are you doing? The show's about to start," Tommy said.
"I'm looking for the dirtiest, rattiest tennis shoes I can find," Johnny replied. "I figure the boy could use this".
Johnny, who was born on this day, February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, was one of seven children who would help their parents farm a 20 acre patch of cotton. Music was integral to his everyday life and Johnny soaked all of it in, ranging from his mother's folk songs and hymns to working man songs from the fields and nearby rail yards.
He would eventually work in a Detroit automotive plant, enlist in the U.S. Air Force, start a band called the Tennessee Three, cut records in Memphis, sell appliances door-to-door, get married, become a father, get divorced, become addicted to narcotics, get busted and do time. Johnny would also propose on stage and get remarried and reborn both personally and professionally before passing away, four months after losing his wife and BFF, in 2003.
His songs, echoing themes of sorrow, moral conflict and redemption made him one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, earning 11 Grammy Awards
"The Man in Black", Tommy's older brother Johnny, would have turned 78 today.
"He's just like my father that way-my father just adored my mother and let her do whatever she wanted. John's like that. He's a very rare man, a very good man, and I've had a good life with him"
JUNE CARTER CASH
p.s... my old friend Chris Colepaugh and his Cosmic Crew are back from the Vancouver Olympics and gigs in Memphis to play the Haiti benefit show tonight in Moncton. Chris has been known to play some mean Johnny Cash tunes from time to time ..."Hard to Say" if any "Man in Black" material will be performed tonite since his original stuff cooks with enough gas on its own.
The sound of a small bell during a dark night - ...is louder than the din of traffic outside your window during rush hour. Surprise and differentiation have far more impact than noise does.