Written by Mark Anderson. 9 November 2014.
The album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash brings many different moods and emotions to life. Specifically, in the song “I’d Still Be There,” Cash portrays feelings of loss and regret towards a woman he used to have. He tells of how he made many mistakes, and in the end this woman he cared so much about walked away from him. Cash uses multiple aspects of structure and style in conveying the message he wants listeners to understand from this song.
Cash and Horton use lyrics that are very fitting to the theme Cash wanted to achieve, but they don’t necessarily agree with the beat/tempo in this particular song. He is very honest with his music, and he admits his wrongs. When listening to “I’d Still Be There,” feelings of regret and hopelessness come into mind. Cash tells of how he didn’t pay attention to this certain woman, and he didn’t meet her needs because he was too busy having fun. “And if you wouldn’t be ashamed of me I’d still be there. I’d be with you where I belong.” This quote, in particular, shows Cash’s true feelings. He admits that he made the wrong decisions in their relationship, but at the same time he makes the listener feel as if he is moving on with his life and looking forward. At the beginning of the song, the beat is very cheerful and bright. While the lyrics may disagree, the feeling that the song gives off to me is one of living carefree and enjoying yourself. At another point during the song, there is a piano break, which gives off a very cheerful vibe as well. The woman that this song was meant for was either very confused when listening to it, or possibly very angry (it could have been used to make fun of her). Even though the song is supposed to be about mistakes and regret, the background music does not concur with the theme.
In “I’d Still Be There,” the message that comes across is one of Cash trying to make things right with this woman, even though he knows she probably won’t come back to him. This song is aimed at one unnamed woman in particular, who Cash will always love regardless of how she feels towards him. “But now the world that once was bright is empty and bare.” This quote sends a message of vacancy in Cash’s life, but it doesn’t seem that Cash really means to apologize. The listener of this song can almost feel his pain throughout the song while thinking about the lyrics, but not while listening to the actual song. The song is more happy than sad, which infers that Cash actually may not want this woman back. He still is very sincere in his lyrics, but, the listener cannot tell how he really feels toward this woman. I’m not sure what this particular woman’s response would be after hearing this song, but I do imagine that it couldn’t hurt his cause. Overall, Cash portrays a very deep and straightforward meaning through the song “I’d Still Be There.”
To get the effect that Cash wants from his music and his listeners (in the message of the song), he uses many different aspects of style. He uses clarity quite well, but does so in a way where he doesn’t go into detail about the mistakes he made in their relationship. This, along with the vibe of the song could possibly suggest that this apology really is not sincere. The lyrics are very clear and easy to understand, without much hidden meaning in them. Cash also uses an aspect of style that we term appropriateness. For the rhetorical situation (his plea to this woman), he does an exceptional job in using the right lyrics to fit the message he is trying to get across. For example, the line “I’d give the world if I could only have you close to me” is very appropriate for the meaning in the song. It shows that Cash would give it all away if it meant winning this woman’s heart back.
Another aspect of style that he uses to his advantage is distinction, and it is evident the way he performs this song. Cash has a certain tone of voice that shows he is sincere. His lyrics separate himself from other artists that are blander and ordinary, which is a key element of distinction. Cash also emphasizes diction in this song in particular. You can tell he has put very much thought and detail into his word choice, because he knows that he need to do all he can if there is any hope left in the world in winning this woman back into his life. All in all, Cash’s use of style is very clear in his lyrics and helps him reach his point further.
Cash’s use of structure in “I’d Still Be There” is effective and he uses it to accomplish getting his message across. The structure of this song follows the format of: multiple lines of new lyrics that the listener has not heard before, then ends each verse with “I’d be by your side, I’d still be there.” There is also a break halfway through the song for a catchy piano verse. The song is not very long, and the songs structure is quite basic.
In the song “I’d Still Be There,” Cash uses everything at his disposal to help get his message across to his audience. His use of style and structure assist in telling how he feels about this woman and their past. When listening to the song, it gives a feeling of Cash’s regret and mistake to the listener, but also gives cheer to the whole situation. In conclusion, the use of lyrics/beat and the effectiveness of the rhetorical situation help to make this song what it is.
|0:00-0:09||Introduction||Drums/piano||The intro has a very uplifting vibe to it and gets stuck in your head.|
|0:09-0:54||Verse 1||“I overlooked alot…”||Guitar comes in along with the drums. Cash’s voice is monotone and he stretches his words out, doesn’t give much emotion in his singing.|
|0:54-1:02||Chorus||“I’d be by your side..”||The drums/guitar in the background continue on like usual in the background.|
|1:02-1:30||Piano break||Piano||The piano adds joy to the song, and is very catchy (very similar to the intro).|
|1:30-1:50||Verse 2||“I’d give the world…”||(same discussion as verse 1). Lyrics are sad, but tone of song is still joyous.|
|1:50-2:14||Chorus (repeats part of Verse 1) and outro||“I’d be by your side..”||Cash repeats this cue multiple times to end the song. The piano also adds to the ending, making it even more enjoyable.|
“Johnny Cash Biography.” Www.biography.com. A&E Television Network, n.d. Web
Streissguth, Michael. “Johnny Cash: The Biography.” N.p., 2007. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.