The recent auction of Johnny Cash's own memorabilia yielded some interesting web commentary, but buried in the catalog we found an incredibly strange item that made us reassess the super-macho image that the Man in Black unwaveringly projected. Could these handwritten lyrics perhaps point to a more complex sexual fantasy life, revealing Cash's lusty–and subconscious–feelings for a biracial singer?
Here are the lyrics in question, in Johnny Cash's own handwriting (from the Julien's Auctions catalog):
“His daddy was a black man/ His mother she was white/ He's the kind of man the Klan/ Goes looking for at night…” This is a 1978 song called “Dan,” with a chorus that goes:
Dan Dan Dan
You swe-eet singin' man
If sometimes we could touch
I'd do more than hold your hand
Dan Dan Dan
You sweet singin', pretty playin
Daydream makin' man
Now, look at the bottom of the page: for some reason Johnny felt he wanted to share with the world the circumstances of the song's composition:
“I saw Dan Hill on T.V. and wrote this song for a girl singer who might be hung up on him.”
Hmmmmm… “For a girl singer who might be hung up on him”??? Doesn't this totally sound like the old “I have a friend who has these odd feelings about Dan Hill” cliche?
(Incidentally, the song is an “answer song” to Dan Hill's 1978 hit “Sometimes When We Touch.”)
If Johnny indeed wrote this “in character,” he was a damn good “young girl with a crush” impersonator:
His blue jeans were jaded
His boots worn out, I guess
His bearded head was tangled
Twisted in a pretty mess
His eyes were onyx diamonds [sic]
His smile could do no wrong
And he's had my heart singin
Since the day I head his song.
You go, Johnny!
By the way–this is very likely the very kind of Dan Hill performance that stirred Johnny into writing his answer song. Watch: