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"It’s a beautiful encapsulation of an incredible icon."
——Luke Lewis, Lost Highway, on Johnny Cash's video for "Hurt"

JOHNNY CASH CHECKS IN AT VMAs

Six VMA Noms for Living Legend Make for a Compelling MTV Awards Show Subplot
An appreciation by Jon O’Hara

Even as his lengthy, self-acknowledged career denouement reaches a poignant artistic resting place with the success of his compelling take on Trent Reznor’s "Hurt," the one-time rebel outlaw "who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," has lived to tell about it…and then some.

Johnny Cash’s upcoming VMA honors come at a time when his fourth album with Rick Rubin in eight years, The Man Comes Around, still has many shaking their heads in wonder. Now 70, Cash continues to struggle with the pain and weakness of "autonomic neuropathy," a condition that would have wrung surrender from weaker men. But after a career of nearly five decades, Cash has been steadfastly determined not to give up, and says he recorded "Man" mainly to spite his disease.

Working through his increasing frailty, as well as the grief of losing his wife and partner of 40 years, June Carter Cash, in May, Cash committed his strength to tape, and it has moved many: "Man" went Gold—Cash’s first Gold record in 32 years—in April, while the video for "Hurt" went to #1 on CMT’s Top 20 Countdown in May. He made his last public appearance at his wife's funeral, and here's hoping he's well enough to make it to Radio City Music Hall to accept the industry's well-deserved plaudits.

Said Lost Highway’s Luke Lewis of the clip, "It’s a beautiful encapsulation of an incredible icon." Adds Cash, "We’re not into stopping and polishing milestones. We look forward to the next one."

Word has it the label is preparing a box-set retrospective on Cash’s career, to be announced soon.

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