a poem by William Willis, Scotland

Pete Barnhill was befriended by the late great Johnny Cash.Both were around 13 years of age at the time.Pete learned Johnny his very first chords on the guitar.The rest is history......


Pete Barnhill was born with a withered right hand.
All his life he fought a crippling disease.
His old Gibson flat-top, could play a mean tune.
Incessant infiltration of the breeze.

As a polio child, he was teased at school.
Mass of metal worn on his right leg.
But a friend was made, back in those school days.
And a lesson we should never forget.

Pete taught Johnny
in a shotgun-shack
a tub-thumping rhythm like a train on a track
among the cotton-fields
in the Dyess land
where the folk were poor
and the dirt was manned

A bedrock for bedlam down that old dust road.
Playing Jimmie Rodgers tunes and the songs of Hank Snow.
That railroad rhythm, came from Pete's goldmine.
Hear that embryonic baselines now, on Walk The Line.

Kindness is a language, that the deaf can hear.
Kindness is a Language, that the blind can see.
When a gift is gone then another comes along.
Lessons learned from Johnny for you and me.

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