"House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father, Johnny Cash," is a treat for Johnny Cash fans. Penned by his son John Carter Cash, it’s a beautifully illustrated and loving tribute to the man in black filled with private musings, art work and even a couple of recipes. (Apparently Cash cooked a mean pot of chili.)
FOX411: Why did you write this book?
John Carter Cash: After my parents passed away it became necessary to go through all their things, the storage vaults, and we found great music, physical items like photography and artwork he’d done, and items of the heart. I wanted to share with the world a broader, new understanding of my dad for the person he really was. He was the man in black, that’s true, but he was so much more beyond that.
FOX411: Do you think there was a stereotype about your Dad?
Cash: I think a lot of people see him as a dark foreboding figure, and very cool. He was always cool, his charisma was powerful, but he was also a very gentle, loving, kind man. He was more focused on spiritual matters than I think a lot of people realize. His faith was paramount to him throughout his whole life, even when he was suffering from addiction, and what pulled him out when he was sick. He was not just a songwriter. He was a painter, a sketcher, a poet. He was a scholar; he studied the Bible more than anything. It became my mission to share these aspects of my dad.
FOX411: You’re very honest writing about his drug dependency battles.
Cash: He was right upfront about it himself. ‘Walk the Line,’ leaves off in 1968 like it was happily ever after but it wasn’t. In the early 80’s his addiction was worse than before. I feel like he would have been ok with me talking about it because I have to tell the story of the whole man.
FOX411: His collaborations with producer Rick Rubin were top notch.
Cash: I’ve heard it argued that a person should be defined by their music in their prime. I disagree; I think it’s when you put your most heart’s effort in it. There’s no doubt that my father put every ounce of energy and spirit that he had into those recordings with Rubin. He had bouts of pneumonia, diabetes, his extremities were going numb, he was going blind, and he lost my mother, but he never slowed down, he never quit recording. His sickness only redoubled his efforts.
FOX411: Your parents had an incredible love story.
Cash: It’s the love story I’m most grateful for. If it hadn’t of happened I wouldn’t be here. Their love survived because of all the struggle and pain they went through. It made it only that much stronger. It wasn’t all roses and daisies. In the beginning there was hardship, but they hung in there. They learned to forgive. They had a grace and ability to wipe the slate clean.
FOX411: It seems like the most important thing to him were his religious beliefs.
Cash: The thing that mattered the most in his life was his relationship with his creator. He was educated and knew about it. He couldn’t have dealt with his addictions without it. That’s how he found redemption and peace, through prayer and connection to God.
FOX411: You write that he had a lot of different friends.
Cash: He was friends with Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. He was friends with good old country boys in Southern Texas and was friends with multi-millionaires. He was close with both of those people honestly. That’s the kind of person he was.