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VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 2   |   Release date: October 15th, 2007

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Johnny Cash Chaps Man’s Hide

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Perched on the top step of his front porch, Jason Childress replaces the strings on his guitar and tunes it for an upcoming gig at the House of Blues. He enjoys talking all things music.

But there’s one subject that causes friends and relatives to walk on egg shells around the 22-year-old musician: Johnny Cash. “You could say that crap makes me wanna cry, cry, cry,” Childress said.

Childress gave his life to Christ three months ago and says he doesn’t “get the whole Christianity and Johnny Cash thing.”

“I’m clueless here,” Childress said. “It’s like, that stupid movie [Walk the Line] came out, and now he’s on everyone’s MySpace profile. Everybody’s all, ‘I like Cash. He’s the original punk. Now that’s what Christian music should be.’ Are you kidding me? I can tell you this much—he ain’t no Big Daddy Weave.”

Road-weary from touring the south as a secular artist, Childress opened his heart to Christ after a gig in Menzies, Georgia. “Tell Cash that in my heart, one’s company, two’s a crowd,” Childress said.

After his baptism, Childress picketed his local Blockbuster Video to get the store to pull its DVD copies of the Cash biography, which depicted the rise, fall and redemption of one of country music’s most controversial figures.

“C’mon now,” said Childress, “you mean to tell me if I smoke a pack a day and cheat on my wife with Reese Witherspoon, I’ll be some kinda CCM hero, too? Well, la-dee-friggin’-da. Call me Vince Gill. You wanna be my Amy? Not!”

He joined the worship team at First Christian Church in Charleston, only to discover within a few weeks that Cash is nearly omni-present in the evangelical world.

“I come in all fired up to break me off some devil, and what do we limp into the presence of God with? A crusty Cash-esque version of Hungry. Worship leader Todd, who, for the love of God, has always sounded like Ronnie James Dio, all the sudden gets this mealy-mouthed drawl, and lights into the verse. There I was, strumming chords, looking at Todd and thinking, ‘Yeah, you’re hungry all right—for a can o’ whoop-ass.’”

Todd, whose last name is Fike, has been alarmed over Childress’s behavior during the past few weeks. “He snarls at me if I come close to a country riff,” said Fike. “And he follows me all around the sanctuary, ‘praying against the demon of Cash’ as he says. Maybe he doesn’t walk the line, but he sure as heck stalks the line.”

The budding talent has been turned down by numerous record labels in Nashville, for what Childress refers to as the “Cash Factor”.

“I cut a four-song demo, see? I go to sign my record deal, and they ask me to write out my liner notes—the usual stuff, who my influences are, etc. So, I put down Big Daddy Weave, Motorhead, Dokken, Spandau Ballet. VP comes to me and says, ‘where’s Cash?’ I’m like, did I just hear the C-word? I says, ‘Cash?’ and he says, ‘yeah, Cash. You can’t get a record deal if you don’t say you were influenced by Cash. No Cash, no contract.’ I says, ‘No Cash, no contract, no care, hombre,’ and skedaddled out the door. And believe you me, I ain’t hardly ever skedaddled.”

The self-proclaimed “Man in Argyle” then went home and started a cyber-protest against Cash at

Childress denies allegations that he is bitter about losing the record deal, saying Cash’s music is at the core of his disdain. “I’ll grant him a couple singles from the Sun sessions, okay? Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But good night, have you ever heard The General Lee? ‘I’m the best pal the Duke boys ever had’? That was the cornerstone of a 50-year-tall skyscraper of crud.”

And he gives no quarter when asked about Cash’s American Recordings.

“Oh boy, don’t get me started on the Rick Ruben years,” Childress said. “Let’s see, he launches his career by stealing gospel songs, takes credit for Shel Silverstein’s A Boy Named Sue, then rides into glory after aping Reznor and Soundgarden. You could say he’s the Alpha and the Omega of ripoff artists.”

Childress put his guitar in its case and headed down the road, turning back once to shout, “Hey, Porter! Get me as far away from The Ballad of Ira Hayes as possible.”End of story

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