Key Instructions in Creativity from Johnny Cash

The most beautiful moment in the Cash biopic is when he goes to audition for a small time record producer with his first gospel band.  He is trying, at this point in his life, to hold down a job and be a good husband but he is drawn to the back door of a record producer, he wants to sing.  He forms a band and has an audition.  They sing the song of the time:  I know that Jesus saved me, by his power he forgave me . . .

The producer stops them.  The producer is played by Dallas Roberts with such restraint and integrity that I have to watch it three times in a row whenever I put it on.  The producer says he can't sell gospel.  Cash presses him for an explanation:  is it the song or the way I sing it?  The producer explains that he didn't believe it, he didn't believe Cash singing the same old tired gospel songs.  Cash then objects, gets upset, claims the producer is telling him he doesn't believe in God.  Roberts explains.  This is a song that everyone always sings.  We've already heard that song a hundred times, just like that, just like you sang it. 

But, Johnny Cash counters, you didn't let us bring it home.

The producer then responds with this speech:
(Everyone who aspires to anything creative should read it once a year) 

Alright, let's "bring it home."  If you was hit by a truck, and you was lying out in that gutter dying and you had time to sing one song - one song people would remember before you're dirt.  One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on earth, one song that would sum you up, you're telling me that's the song you'd sing, the same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within and how it's real and how you're going to shout it?

Or would you sing something different. Something real.  Something you felt.Because I'll tell you right now that's the song that people want to hear. 

That's the kind of song that truly saves people.

It doesn't got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash.  It has to do with believing in yourself.


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