Here’s a clip from the movie Walk The Line, the biographical movie about Johnny Cash. In this clip, Sam Phillips of Sun Records challenges Cash to sing something other than the hackneyed gospel song he was performing.
Here’s the major dialog from the scene for those of you who can’t watch Hulu.
Sam Phillips: You know exactly what I’m telling you. We’ve already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just… like… how… you… sing it.
Johnny Cash: Well you didn’t let us bring it home.
Sam Phillips: Bring…[chuckle] bring it home? All right, let’s bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that 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 tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real, and how you’re gonna shout it? Or… would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.
Johnny Cash: [after a pause] I got a couple of songs I wrote in the Air Force. You got anything against the Air Force?
Sam Phillips: No.
Johnny Cash: I do.
So, do you have one song, metaphorically at least, you’re going to sing, that expresses how you feel? Or are you going to go through the motions, performing something that someone else has already performed 100 times that you don’t really feel connected to? Do you have something real, something you can believe in? Think about it.