13 / Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash


Thirteen by Danzig, an ode to Johnny Cash marks its ground as a timeless piece of the many wonders the band has provided us. Danzig, an American heavy metal band was formed in the late 1980’s. Despite the satanic tendencies, one must complement the band in terms of the musical diversity displayed. The song we present to you is ‘Thirteen’ from the album titled ‘6:66 Satan’s Child.’ Setting aside the title of the record, let’s focus on this particular single. Glenn Danzig, the lead singer, wrote this for Johnny Cash as an understanding of the man and his career. It was popularized by becoming the opening song of the movie, ‘The Hangover.’ Johnny Cash is easily one of the most influential figures in music of all times. Though the song depicts bad luck and misery, Johnny Cash turned out to be one of the greatest. A thorough listening of the track will give you a gloomy picture amidst a country side graphic. Danzig’s appeal is maintained and the music eventually grows onto you. “Bad luck wind blowing on my back, I’m born to bring trouble wherever I’m at.” These being the opening lines of the song directly lead you to the point. The theme is set and as an avid listener, you know exactly what you are in for. ‘Bad luck’ and ‘trouble’ complement each other and for those of us that face either of the two or even both for that matter can easily relate to the words. Talent isn’t an excuse for good fortune. Cash faced great struggles in his duration of 71 years. “With the number 13 tattooed on my neck, that ink starts to itch, black gon’ turn to red.” For several reasons the number thirteen is considered unlucky. This is interpreted in terms of mathematics, science, legality and even for biblical reasons.  ‘That ink starts to itch, black gon’ turn to red.’ Being unlucky can itch and the very source of bad luck can dent your progress as a living being. Cash’s popular nick name is – The Man in Black. This was mainly due to his rebelliousness. By stating that black is going to turn red, a clear indication is made that his rebelliousness will soon turn into blood. “I was born in the soul of misery, and I never had me a name, they just give me a number when I was young.” Cash wasn’t born in the heart of misery but in the soul. The choice of words is interesting. The heart eventually stops beating and life must come to an end. What makes the soul fascinating is that it lives on according to popular belief. Cash was spiritually miserable. His parents couldn’t think of a name and they eventually ended up calling him, ‘J.R. Cash.’ A reference is made to the number, which is thirteen denoting that Cash inherited the sense of bad luck and misery from his family. “Got a long line of heartache, I carry it well. The list of lives I’ve broken, reach from here to hell.” The misery caused him a long line of heartache. Cash learnt to carry that heartache. If he didn’t, the achievements to his name would have only been a distant dream. He was responsible for several lives, his first wife being one of them. Due to his constant drug abuse and countless affairs with women, she filed for a divorce in 1966. The line of people he’s broken lays out the distance from here to hell. That could only mean that Cash had fallen harder and even deeper. “Pray you don’t look at me, and I pray I don’t look back.” Cash pleads you to look away. He’s realized that he hasn’t set a good example for humanity. He’s been scarred to an extent that he’s afraid to look back at his past. Moving forward is the only option for himself as well as for the people around him. “Found me with a preacher man confessing all I done, Catch me with the devil playing 21.” Confessions breed awareness. Seeking the lord’s forgiveness was Cash’s final option. Irony lies in the fact that Cash in subtle ways promoted the antichrist. The very example being this track itself that Cash learnt from Danzig when he went down to Tennessee to teach him this song. Blackjack or 21 is a game of chance that lasts for a very short duration. Cash had always been living on the edge, playing with fire and pinning his hopes on his sins. All in all, the lyrics construct an elevating path. Although here, one is sinking lower to discover a man’s misfortune. The mellow yet tempering guitar, conscious bass and effective drumming coupled with Danzig’s vocals makes the song an absolute treat to listen to. The song possesses the ability to prick your conscience, making it a strange eulogy despite the fact that it wasn’t never meant to be one. Praise for the man hardly being there in the song. Audiograph recommends you to give this song a listen. You can provide us with your feedback by posting a comment below or by writing to us at – audiogravery@gmail.com


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