Lists of Note

By Shaun Usher

The sequel to the bestselling Letters of Note

1. Johnny Cash’s To-Do List

It seems apt to kick Lists of Note off with the very list that inspired the creation of this site: a lovely, handwritten list from Johnny Cash.

(Image: Julien's Auctions.)


  1. Not smoke
  2. Kiss June
  3. Not kiss anyone else
  4. Cough
  5. Pee
  6. Eat
  7. Not eat too much
  8. Worry
  9. Go see Mama
  10. Practice Piano

NOTES: Not write notes

2. Things To Worry About

In 1933, renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows.

(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, Scottie, in 1924.)

(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, Scottie, in 1924.)

Things to worry about:

  • Worry about courage
  • Worry about cleanliness
  • Worry about efficiency
  • Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

  • Don’t worry about popular opinion
  • Don’t worry about dolls
  • Don’t worry about the past
  • Don’t worry about the future
  • Don’t worry about growing up
  • Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
  • Don’t worry about triumph
  • Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
  • Don’t worry about mosquitoes
  • Don’t worry about flies
  • Don’t worry about insects in general
  • Don’t worry about parents
  • Don’t worry about boys
  • Don’t worry about disappointments
  • Don’t worry about pleasures
  • Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

  • What am I really aiming at?
  • How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
    a) Scholarship
    b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
    c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

3. Elvis: Fat

In 1976, a young man sent John Lennon six pages of interview questions in the post. Lennon responded. Below is question No.9 — a list of names/things, each of which Lennon was asked to describe in a single word.

Interestingly, Howard "Ham" Cosell would announce the death of Lennon to millions of Americans four years later.

(Image courtesy of Bonhams.)

9. Today, how do you associate to the following, described in one word?

  • New York: great
  • Elvis: fat
  • Ringo: friend
  • Yoko: love
  • Howard Cosell: ham
  • George: lost
  • Bootlegs: good
  • Elton: nice
  • Paul: extraordinary
  • Bowie: thin
  • M.B.E: shit
  • John: great

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