Johnny Cash would have turned 89 today. There are so many fitting letters to revisit on such an anniversary: Cash’s note to Bob Dylan, written on the back of a sick bag in 1963, a year before they first met; or the message he once sent to Tom Petty which read, in part, “You’re a good man to ride the river with.” There’s his famous letter to June, which features in Letters of Note: Love and reads, “You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You're the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence.” Or the note he wrote after June’s death, addressed to nobody in particular: “I love June Carter, I do. Yes I do. I love June Carter I do. And she loves me. But now she's an angel and I’m not. Now she's an angel and I’m not.”
All good options, but they’ll have to wait. Instead, a letter first shown to me back in 2010. It was sent to Cash in the early-1970s by a young kid who was concerned to learn that his musical idol had wound up in hospital with a broken nose (again). Cash later remarked that it was one of his favourites, and it’s easy to see why.
Dear Mr. Cash,
How is your nose? I hope it’s not sore. I was worried about why you was in the hospital at first but then I was glad when the paper said it was just on account of your nose. Noses aren’t too serious.
Mama said I wouldn’t say that if it was my nose. But lots of things are worse, like throwing up.
Anyway I hope you feel better now.
The lady on the news on TV said that you are out of the hospital and you are fine. Boy am I glad of that. I don’t like having nothing the matter with you even if it is just your nose.
Do you have a humidifier? They are good for noses because in the winter the air gets dry from the heater, and breathing soggy air is better than breathing dried up air I guess.
Anyway you are ok now and that’s great. How’s June’s back? How’s your daddy? Good luck on that show you do every year. I miss most of it because I have to go to bed.
Take care of yourself so your nose don’t bleed. Isn’t it a good thing that all the bad stuff isn’t bunched up together in one person?
Your friend, Mark Shane
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