Bill Cayley’s Tribute to Johnny CashBill Cayley’s Tribute to Johnny Cashold country
I’ve known Bill Cayley for a long, long time, and one of his earliest influences was the ‘Man in Black’, the voice of the working man, the one and only Mr. Johnny Cash. Johnny has been part of Bill’s musical upbringing with all the great songs he wrote, sang, and make hits of like, ‘I Walk the Line, 5 Ft. High and Rising, Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Cocaine Blues, and so many more. Bill has always felt a close kinship to John R. Cash because they share the same birthday, Feb. 26th. Many of the early guitar licks Bill learned were directly from John’s hit songs with Luther Perkins playing lead to the distinctive ‘Cash’ sound.
Bill recently remarked to me that he had forgotten just how many hits John had and the remarkable library of music that he is responsible for. So many of his songs were stories and comments of the time and real struggles that so many people faced and conquered on a daily basis.
Bill told me how he thought that trains were always a constant in a Cash song. It wasn’t just the tale of the rails; it was also the rhythm of the rails. If you traveled, you made any lengthy journey usually by rail, freight moved by rail, poor folks moved by rail, there was a whole hobo sub-culture connected to the tracks, and, of course, the constant, pulsating beat of ‘clickety clack, clickety clack’ which John translated into ‘boom ticka boom ticka boom’ and with that, a whole new beat, a whole new sound was created. Trains seem to be a theme of many Cash songs (Rock Island Line, Take a Message to Rose, Folsom Prison, and so many more) and, of course, there is the story, always the story.
I have seen Bill Cayley do his tribute to Johnny Cash many times and it never fails to touch me the way he captures the simple, straight-forward, homey touch that was so important to a Cash concert. Not only does Bill actually play the guitar he dresses and sings the great Cash songs in the simple and humble way that was the trademark of the ‘Man in Black’. A chance to spend a night with Bill Cayley as Johnny Cash should not be missed.
Liam Henry, A.B.S.Co.