“The Engineer’s Dying Child” by Johnny Cash
— Friday, May 4th, 2012 —
Rascal Flatts probably won’t ever sing a song about baby death.
I chose this week’s song when I read Roseanne Cash mention how out of kilter it is in today’s music culture to hear the kinds of songs one heard all the time in Appalachian folk music: songs about the sickness and death of infants and children.
Right after that I read a fascinating article in Slate magazine about the loss of songs about disease in American culture. We once had songs about influenza and polio, but we are as vaccinated now against such songs as we are against those diseases.
On this week’s episode of “The Cross and the Jukebox,” we listen to an old song in this genre, recorded by Cash, and I ponder what the threat of losing a child to an unstoppable illness can teach us, all of us, about seeking the kingdom.