Immortalised on the big screen in the film Walk the Line and with a posthumous album eagerly awaited, Johnny Cash is proving as big a star three years after his death as he was in life. And the revival of interest in the "Man in Black" was confirmed yesterday when he was nominated for three awards in the annual Mojo magazine honours.
His rivals for the inspiration award include Paul Weller, The Fall and Sparks, while in the icon category he faces a host of music industry veterans such as David Bowie (a second-time nominee), Neil Young, Van Morrison and Scott Walker. Cash's five-CD collection, Johnny Cash - The Legend, has also been nominated for the catalogue release of the year award.
Phil Alexander, Mojo's editor-in-chief, said: "It just proves how significant and influential a guy he remains. It feels a real reaffirmation of his pivotal role in modern music as a whole. "I know it sounds terrible, but since he passed away, his impact and influence has become even more evident. There's that incredible humanity in his songs that just hits that nerve. He's the embodiment of America."
Musicians influenced by Cash range from Bob Dylan to Jack White of the White Stripes, Mr Alexander said. And listeners who had missed him before had been alerted by the award-winning movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Cash.
In other categories, Kate Bush is shortlisted for the second year running for the songwriter award against the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, Nick Cave, the late Joe Strummer and Richard Hawley, the Sheffield singer-songwriter who has won much acclaim.
Contenders for the best new act include the Raconteurs, Jack White's celebrity band, Corinne Bailey Rae and Amadou and Mariam, the Malian couple who have been playing together for years, but only reached a wider British public this year when they were honoured at the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards.
Other artists nominated for awards are a diverse mix, including Kraftwerk, the Flaming Lips, Bob Dylan, Orange Juice and Jeff Wayne for his War of the Worlds concept album.
Mr Alexander said the range of music being listened to now by a typical Mojo reader was much wider than it used to be, thanks in part to internet downloads. "What is important for me is that the gamut of artists represented is vast," he said. "In the wider world of music, people are listening to as many different things as they can get their hands on. It's no longer as tribal as it was."
It meant that the magazine, which prides itself on celebrating "only the greatest names in modern music", was being bought by music fans who were younger than the previous typical readership of thirtysomethings.
"Johnny Cash is not selling records to people who are in their fifties, but in some cases to people who are younger than 20. Ditto Dylan last year," he said.
"What people are looking for is music that is timeless, that they feel will give them a sense of importance, that matters to them, rather than something that is disposable. The journey of rediscovery in music is very important. Look at the teenagers with Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin on their T-shirts. They're people who weren't born when these guys had their first records."
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 5 June.
Best New Act
Corinne Bailey Rae
Amadou and Mariam
Archie Bronson Outfit
Catalogue Release of the Year
Johnny Cash: Legend
Talking Heads: Reissue Series
Orange Juice: The Glasgow School
Various: Anthems in Eden
Various: Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal
Jeff Wayne: War of the Worlds
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home
Ramones: The Story of the Ramones
Dig! [documentary on the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre]
The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks
Mayor of the Sunset Strip [documentary on the history of fame]Reuse content