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MarkWhittington writes "NASA engineers at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are building a mockup of what appears to be a deep space habitat, though it could also be part of an interplanetary spacecraft. The purpose is to do human factors studies to find out how to sustain astronauts on lengthy deep space missions."

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Getty Images photographer, Mario Tama, spent time in and around Owsley County, Kentucky documenting the life and times of some of it's 5,000 residents. The 2010 U.S. Census listed Owsley County as having the lowest median household income in the country outside of Puerto Rico, with 41.5% of residents living below the poverty line. Familial and community bonds run deep, with a populace that shares a collective historical and cultural legacy uncommon in most parts of the country. The community struggles with a lack of jobs due to the decline in coal, tobacco and lumber industries. It's just a glimpse into their lives, but one we wanted to share. -- Paula Nelson (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.) (46 photos total)
Craig and Cora Adams, married nine years, outside their trailer in Owsley County, April 20, 2012, in Booneville, Kentucky. Daniel Boone once camped in the Appalachian mountain hamlet of Owsley County which remains mostly populated by descendants of settlers to this day. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Johnny Cash didn’t live lightly.

From picking cotton to help his impoverished, Depression-wracked family; to his exhausting tour schedule; to struggling with a serious drug addiction; to his songs about guns, murder, revenge, punishment and repentance—Johnny Cash was a troubled man who sought redemption through his music.

To commemorate what would be the county-music master’s 80th birthday on Feb. 26, several celebrations, projects and events are scheduled throughout the year. Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Ark. is being restored. Columbia/Legacy will release a series of archived recordings, starting with a collection of his gospel and spiritual songs from 1970s and ’80s called Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth, which will be available in April. A Johnny Cash Museum is scheduled to open this summer in Nashville.

And here on LightBox we have rare and unpublished photos of the Man in Black from the Sony Music Archive. Many of these images were taken by Don Hunstein, a prolific music photographer at Columbia records for 30 years, and date from the late ’50s to the early ’70s; they include pictures of Cash and his wife June right after she gave birth to their only son, John Carter Cash, in 1970, as well as the musician at home in California or fishing on his farm in San Antonio.

Johnny Cash was born to farmers in Kingsland, Ark. on Feb. 26, 1932. As the fourth of five children, he recalled in a 1969 TIME article that although his family was dirt poor, “I was never hungry a day in my life….at breakfast it was just fatback and biscuits—but that was plenty.” After high school, Cash worked at an auto plant in Pontiac, Mich. (where, as far as we know, he did not actually construct a car from stolen parts, as he later pretended to in his 1976 song “One Piece at a Time”). He joined the Air Force for a few years, and then in 1954 he married Vivian Liberto and the couple moved to Memphis.

Cash had always been musical—as a child he sang at the Dyess Central Baptist Church and he reportedly learned to play the guitar while in the Air Force —so when he moved to Memphis, he hooked up with two musicians, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, and auditioned for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. He recorded “Hey, Porter” and “Cry Cry Cry” for Phillips, the latter of which became his first hit, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard’s Top 20 in 1955. He followed it up with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line,” which shot up to No. 1 and stayed there for 43 weeks. It would sell over two million copies. (Cash’s stint at Sun Records was relatively shortlived; he switched to Columbia in 1958 because the Phillips wouldn’t let him record gospel music).

Cash then embarked the grueling journey that all newly-successful musicians must endure: days and weeks and months of endless touring. By 1957, he was giving more than 200 shows a year (by some accounts, he may have played closer to 300). His marriage was faltering. He drank too much. He became addicted to amphetamines. He accidentally started a forest fire in California. He was arrested for smuggling pills into the U.S. from Mexico. In 1966, his wife filed for divorce. And yet still he released hit song after hit song: “Ring of Fire,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” “I Got Stripes.” Johnny Cash was a troubled man, but not so troubled that he couldn’t turn his haunted words into song.

Cash toured with the Carter Family in the 1960s—and of course he would ultimately marry June Carter in 1968, after she helped him overcome his addiction and find his faith. The couple’s live recordings at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, in 1968 and 1969 respectively, are still two of the best concert albums ever released. They were married for 35 years, until her death in May 2003 from complications from heart surgery. Cash made it only four more months before joining her in September of the same year.

But this glossed over retelling of dates and events isn’t what’s important about Johnny Cash. The reason we remember him so fondly—and why we’re celebrating his birthday nine years after he passed—is the gift he had for music and the way he made us feel. Cash’s world-weary bass-baritone voice expressed a forlorn pain that, until we heard his songs, we didn’t even know we had. He gave a voice to the working man, the luckless, the outlaw, the convict—and to those of us who weren’t any of those things but who sometimes identified with them anyway.

“Well, we’re doing mighty fine, I do suppose / In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes,” Cash once sang, “But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back / Up front there ought ‘a be a man in black.”

Thank you for being that man, Johnny Cash. Happy birthday.

Claire Suddath is a staff writer at TIME Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter at @clairesuddath or on Facebook.

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Boston-based photographer Christopher Churchill’s new book American Faith from Nazraeli Press will be available in December. American Faith is a sprawling, anecdotal tour that explores the meaning of faith in amazing variety. Christopher Churchill answered questions for me recently about the project.

RH: “How did you go about asking people such personal questions (about their faith)? How much time did you spend with folks before shooting them?”

CC: “In most cases I would spend 2-4 hours with people. It was always amazing to me how gracious people were with their time. To randomly stop someone or knock on their door and then have them drop everything to stake that kind of time was incredible. Usually the picture would happen first then the interview. I would never really ask anything to complicated just simple questions. I think they saw that I was looking for answers in my own life and they felt compelled to share what they had discovered. It just happens to be that for most people the difficult times in life are when you end up needing something greater then yourself.”

RH: “Was this project by a seeker, about seekers? If so, did you find something out about your own ‘faith’?”

CC: “I would certainly be described as a seeker or wanderer. While I don’t know if these people would call themselves that as well, everyone human on the planet I would say seeks to be a part of something greater in some capacity.
That idea of faith is now where I place my own faith. I have grown to understand the vastness of the word and why there would be religions that stem from it. Most importantly I have learned that just because you do not practice a religion does not mean you lack faith.”

RH: “What kinds of aesthetic decisions did you make specifically for this project, and why? Were you happy with the results?”

CC: “I was 27 when this started and trying to figure out who I was as a photographer so the aesthetics were not premeditated rather discovered along the way compositionally speaking. The choice to use black and white film came from circumstance. I really like making things in the darkroom and couldn’t afford color 8×10 film. Looking back I couldn’t be happier. Even just looking at the tradition silver prints made with an 8×10 negative the clarity and tonal range are really amazing. Then even more importantly, the fact that they are made by hand, you can feel that effort in the object its very succinct with the whole project.”

Thomas Putman And Thomas Putman Jr., Ponca City, OK, 2009
“I’m Thomas Putman, born in Ponca City, Oklahoma. We moved out here about a year ago from Michigan due to the fact that there is work. I didn’t have any work in Michigan and I got a little kid who needs anything and everything I can give him. I had to move out here to do that. I mean, havin’ my kid, it was time to wake up. You know, before that I did anything and everything and it didn’t matter what the consequences were afterward. But now that I have him, those thoughts pop in my head before I make a decision on anything. I believe in God. But everybody has a different belief, and as long as it furthers you in life and gives you a better perspective on the things you do in life then I don’t really care what you believe in.”

Father Grasham, Plum Island, MA, 2004

Dewey Chafin, Jolo, WV, 2004
“I’ve been handling snakes for about forty years. I’ve been bitten 151 times and still counting, I hope. Probably some more will bite me. I don’t get scared. I mean, sometimes one will hiss at you and you’re gonna get bit, but it don’t scare me none. I have handled 20 at one time. That was a long time ago… They just kept piling them in my hands, piling them in my hands. I thank God for every time I handle them and I got them in my hands and they don’t bite me. And if they do bite me I’m thinking, ‘Thank you God for talking care of me’.”

Darleen And Marcus Obi, Ho River Indian Reservation, WA, 2007
Darleen: “I’m from the Ho River Tribe.” Marcus: “I’m from the Quileute Tribe.” Darleen: “I’m 16.” Marcus: “I’m 11.”
Darleen: “I think about our ancestry when we do drumming and signing. They have a lot of different songs that they sing and I think about who started the songs. I never find out, but our family probably goes back thousands of years.” Darleen: “My grandma died a couple of weeks ago and we got little necklaces with her ashes in it. I think she is in heaven and always kind of with us. She taught me how to put fish on a stick, like salmon when they have ceremonial dinners and stuff. She taught me how to drum and sing.”

Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, TN, 2009

Hudderite Classroom, Gildford, MT, 2005

Priestess Miriam Shamani, New Orleans, LA, 2004
“At that moment I relaxed and found that all the different circumstances I moved through were just a beautiful ball of wisdom. The inspiration came into my ear, into my soul: One’s life experience is your Master Teacher.
My experiences have given me an understanding of how to be a better self-creative with my life and with my time. It never discouraged me from moving forward and seeking new ways to elevate my life. In these moments of clarity you can see your Master Plan put together and still never know where or how you are going to extend it further. It’s a moment that your Master has put together. It’s a unique sequence of knowledge and activity meant just for you. So many people miss this because they become conflicted in life. They retreat into their troubles.”

Engaged Muslim Couple, Madison, WI, 2005
Amber: “I feel very misunderstood here. I feel like people don’t really know that much about Islam and what they do know is pretty negative. They just take what they know from the media and when they see me they get upset – especially if it’s in a big crowd. They think it’s funny to say things, usually sexual comments. A few weeks ago someone pushed me. It happened at a student organization fair. I was standing next to a Muslim student association poster. She just came up and pushed me. That was the first physical contact I’ve had.”
Babir: “I don’t feel the brunt of it, you know, she does. I hear from her and what scares me the most is how it is for our daughters and sisters who go through these situations with no one to talk to. It’s a sad thing in America, but it happens so much it’s just something you kind of have to just get used to. Before 9/11 it was cultural stereotypes like ‘sand nigger’ and ‘rag head.’ But that’s different than people thinking you killed thousands of people. They don’t know that we had a family member die in one of those towers.”

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florence + the machine - dog days are over

1. paint yourself white. completely white. yes, even behind the ears.

2. dye hair red. get a nice curly afro perm while you’re at it.

3. get a few harps and a southern baptist church choir and some bongos, just for the hell of it.

4. turn this song on.

5. go crazy.

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