(Matt Barber) On the 26th of this month, legendary singer/songwriter and iced-cool customer Johnny Cash would have celebrated his 85th birthday. Even as I write, his live version of “Folsom Prison Blues” click-clacks through my earbuds like a Southern Pacific boxcar over oily railroad ties. The memories abound. We were “The Treetops,” a not-so-legendary middle school garage band from the sticks outside Norman, Oklahoma. I was the drummer, and “Folsom Prison,” our very first song, sounded pretty dang tight, what, with the concrete acoustics in our two-car studio and all. My buddy Chad Usry (man, could that cat play guitar) did a great imitation of the Man in Black—great to a seventh-grader, anyhow.

Like October leaves, the winds of time, as they say, scattered The Treetops down dusty roads far-removed. Sadly, I learned a few years back that Chad ended up sentenced to his own Folsom Prison for a series of burglaries and violent crimes. He’ll have 40 years in this self-wrought wilderness to cry out to God for a second chance at life. Few know it, but Johnny Cash, late in his own life, and likewise wandering a wilderness of his own making, cried out to God in a big way. He had to. Or else die. READ MORE