What I learned from the Johnny Cash bio by Hilburn

You don’t have to be a virtuoso to make great art, you just have to reach down deep into yourself and pull out the most authentic version of your pain.

Don’t forget. It’s possible your life might only have one moment of swelling. I mean a wave crest. You’ll spend the first half whipping up the waves and last breath trying to swim back to it. But sometimes you do crest a new wave, like Cash did. He did his best work at the beginning of his career and at the end.

Just because you’re famous for your creativity, whether that’s painting or composing or writing, doesn’t mean you didn’t squander your talent. It just means your work gave someone enough feels to gush up greenbacks. Maybe money was all you wanted. Or maybe you could have been a brilliant artist if you’d challenged your vision. Look at what happened to some of the best. Elvis got fat and died young. Cash lost his edge to drugs and abuse. There’s a line in the Hilburn biography that goes something like, “he was 55 going on 75.”

Sometimes having the right producer makes all the difference, Sam Philips in the beginning and Rick Rubin at the end. Got to find somebody who gets what you’re trying to do and then paves the wave for you to get there.