Johnny Cash & Raffi: Two Peas in a Pod
Surely you jest?
Depending on which family car I was driving this week, I was either listening to At Folsom Prison or The Corner Grocery Store.
At first glance, they seem to be antonymous artists. Upon further investigation, the similarities are striking:
|1. Each is the definitive posterboy, the top-of-the-mind name recall for his respective genre||Country & Western||Children’s Music|
|2. Both are singers even the haters can’t hate||“I hate country! Oh, but Johnny Cash is cool.”||“Ugh. Kid’s music. Actually, you know what, Raffi’s OK.”|
|3. Both albums feature a mix of originals & covers||Original Highlight: the title track
Top Cover: Cocaine Blues
|Original Highlight: Anansi
Top Cover: the title track
|4. Each record features big names among the writing credits||Merle Travis,
|5. World class talent was involved in the production of each album||Bob Johnston’s resume also includes legendary Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel recordings||Canadian Daniel Lanois needs no introduction for the millions who love The Joshua Tree and So|
|6. The economic song lengths & lengthy tracklists||16 tracks in 44:49
(Including all banter)
|18 tracks in 30:08
|7. The instantly identifiable, impossible to replicate vocals||“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Even if he didn’t immediately introduce himself, there’s no mistaking the singer.||If there’s a gentler baritone out there…there isn’t.|
|8. The inter-generational magic continues||45 years from now, people will still be talking about this concert.||In recent years, only Harry Potter has proven to be as loved by both 7-year olds and 70-year olds.|
|9. Ability to captivate an audience||Yes, his audience was figuratively ‘captive’ but could anyone else engage a crowd of 2,000 inmates?||Toddlers are frequently (albeit accurately) accused of having the attention span of mayonnaise. For many of that same demographic, this album could be played on repeat with 0 complaints & 100% focus at singing along.|
|10. The unquestionable sincerity||This prison show was no stunt: Johnny’s rapport with the prisoners is genuine, his delivery authentic.||A decent man whose songs never ‘talked down’ to kids. Not surprisingly, Raffi would later be a founder of The Centre for Child Honouring.|
The parallels likely continue from there.
Two of the greats in peak form: performing timeless tunes, delighting fans of all ages.