Johnny Cash was remembered for how his music “sang the faith” in an article published on Sunday in the Italian Bishops’ Conference’s newspaper Avvenire. Without his faith, the article said, "the voice of Cash would not have been the same."
The bishops' newspaper remembered the man who, though he "knew" prison and nearly died of a drug overdose, "still ... at a certain point in his life, took from it a possible Meaning, with a capital letter." Cash dedicated the last of his songs, the paper noted, "to sorrowful, moving hymns to man, inserted within his own faith in a God that gives horizons and hopes to man."
Avvenire also looked at Cash's work by reviewing the album "Ain't No Grave," which it called an "ulterior and touching witness of art imbued with faith and humanity."
Looking at the recently released book “The Man in Black—Commentated Texts”, Avvenire saw Cash as a " young country singer that was educated to respect the earth and believe that there is Someone that governs it."
Later, the paper recalled, he became a "spokesperson of the rejects" in playing concerts for and representing those in jail, "interpreting their repentances and hardships."
Distancing himself from the American dream, the newspaper wrote, he highlights the injustices and tragedies, shedding light on his true personality as a man "for the poor" and "for those who've never read or listened to the words that Jesus said."
Citing the authors of the book, Valter and Francesco Binaghi, who note that Cash's inheritance for the 21st century man is a "voice, guitar and faith," Avvenire asserted that "without faith, the voice of Cash would not have been the same and we would have an example less of how much, (when) wanting to do so, even a guitar can help (us) to live."
Cash, known as the "Man in Black," died of diabetes-associated complications after a prolific singing and songwriting career in Sept. 2003. In his lifetime, he also released an series called "The Johnny Cash Spoken Word New Testament," released on cassette in 1989 and later on CD in 2003.
About the spoken word recordings, he wrote that he approached each session "with fear, respect, awe and reverence for the subject matter. I also did it with a great deal of joy, because I love the Word."