The myth of Cash

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2006

I’m linking to “Ian Sanson’s piece on Johnny Cash from the LRB”: [via the “Virtual Stoa”: ] both because it is entertaining and perceptive, but also — in the light of “John Q’s Blonde post”: below — to report that Chuck Klosterman’s “hilarious sociobiological explanation for Led Zeppelin”, as referenced by Sanson, is freely available to the moderately ingenious via’s “search inside” feature.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation » Blog Archive » The Sociobiological Explanation for Led Zeppelin
03.19.06 at 6:48 am



almostinfamous 03.06.06 at 10:05 am

oh man… that headline made me think this was gonna be a nihilistic attack on the monetary system. thank god it’s something better.


John Emerson 03.06.06 at 11:29 am

An ostrich?


Todd 03.06.06 at 12:07 pm

Nice tip about the “search inside” feature. You can also find it here, if you scroll down to the highlighted bit.

Just last week I was thinking about 8th grade, and I put on “When the Levee Breaks,” and it was a completely empty experience. I wondered what had happened to the magic. I’m glad to know this is a full-blown phenomenon.


Tim 03.06.06 at 2:06 pm

I quess I haven’t hit that point in the maturation process yet… Or maybe I skipped right over it to “old grouch” — for as long as I can remember the Stones have given me a headache.


wcw 03.06.06 at 3:35 pm

Funny, what a backhanded compliment that review ends up. He clearly likes Cash’s best work, as do I, as does my wife, as did, at least when they were young, my immigrant parents. When as a kid I first started listening to their desultory non-classical LPs (Gordon Lightfoot! Buffy St. Marie! an awful covers LP by the “California Poppy Pickers” that is now worth real money as a “psychedelic” artifact!) the three I played the most — to which I can keep coming back (‘When the Levee Breaks’ never wowed me even at 13 and besides ‘Paint It Black’ I have always been able to leave the Stones lay) — were, in order, a Little Richard hits collection, a Hank Williams hits collection, and a Johnny Cash hits collection.

Who cares if they’re honest, or pure, or whatever. They’re great art. Perhaps it’s having grown up in the center of artifice that is the US west coast, but ‘authenticity’ alone does nothing for me. I much prefer myth.


Crystal 03.06.06 at 4:05 pm

The “sociobiological explaination for Led Zeppelin” reminds me of your own John Quiggin posting the “sociobiological explanation for the Mutiny on the Bounty” a while back. (Young men like having sex – no! You’re kidding!) I guess there’s a sociobiological explanation for everything if you want to find one.

I’d love to hear the “sociobiological explanation for The Carpenters” sometime.


joe o 03.06.06 at 5:04 pm

If your Led Zeppelin phase ended before November 18, 1997, you really need to buy this and get in touch with your inner male adolescent.


Laura 03.07.06 at 7:56 am

Thanks, I read that piece in LRB and wondered briefly about the reference. Then instantly forgot.

Must protest in the strongest possible terms however that AC/DC are not ridiculous, or at any rate not notably more ridiculous than LZ.


Giovanni Ribisi 03.07.06 at 9:19 am

I agree AC/DC are much less ridiculous than Zep. AC/DC never tried to force hippy lyrics about Mordor or “dancing days” onto hard rock. In my high school the smart kids listened to the Who, Talking Heads and the Clash, the jocks listened to the Doors, Neil Young and Aerosmith, and Zeppelin was kind of a joke.


jake 03.07.06 at 10:16 am

The culture industry fuses the old and familiar into a new quality. In all its branches, products which are tailored for consumption by masses, and which to a great extent determine the nature of that consumption, are manufactured more or less according to plan (Adorno)

Tho’ not supporting the marxism per se, perhaps there are a few blogger-pariahs who admire Adorno’s perorations on the Culture Industry, regardless of its lack of confirmability. Ho-wood is as much political instrument as Washington (or Sac-town) politicos are; but measuring its effects in any sort of precise manner presents all sorts of problems. So one may be left with Adorno-like meditations, vague freudian or postmod generalizations, or perhaps eschewing the theory, sort of dittos of WS Burroughs’ thoughts (tho perhaps not his character): there isn’t one dream of America that Hollywood hasn’t destroyed (or pimped, mocked, etc. or words to that effect). Not only ‘burb values are appealed to; the lives of outlaws are eventually cleaned up, marketed, spun: as in the recent John Cash flick.

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