Tag Archives: Johnny Cash

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Peggy Lee, The Guess Who

The fifth episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on October 21, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Peggy Lee, The Guess Who, Marty Robbins, and Tommy Cash along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Unfortunately, I have not seen this episode yet on GetTV. In fact, I’m starting to think they only have 21 episodes that they keep repeating…out of the 58 episodes originally broadcast. That’s less than half. I might be wrong. We’ve reached out to the network to ask them some questions, but they have yet to reply. I’ll keep watching and report back.

We can derive how the show went down based on the detailed notes from the Country Music Hall of Fame and some help from the friendly uploaders of YouTube.

One thing Johnny Cash wanted to do with his series was to bridge the generation gap by introducing his older country audience to younger rock and rollers. Or maybe it wasn’t so much a generation gap as it was a cultural gap between his more rural, conservative audience and the “Woodstock” types who had embraced him since Live at Folsom Prison. It was no accident that the very first episode featured Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

Most of the time Cash let the music do the talking but sometimes he beat you over the head with it. A good example of this is the medley he performs with the Guess Who, where the Canadian longhairs trade verses of their latest single with Cash who intersperses bits of his anti-anti-hippie anthem, “What Is Truth” (“Could it be that the girls and boys are trying to be heard above your noise?”). It’s not subtle, and it may seem corny today, but I bet at the time it was provocative.

Johnny Cash – “Mama Tried” (link is audio only)

• June Carter recites a love poem she wrote

• Marty Robbins – “Jolie Girl”

Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins – “Streets of Laredo”

The Guess Who and Johnny Cash – Medley: “Hand Me Down World” / “What is Truth” / “Share the Land”

Johnny Cash – Come Along and Ride This Train: The Gold Rush

Johnny Cash and Peggy Lee – “I’m A Woman”

Peggy Lee – “One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round”

Peggy Lee and Johnny Cash – “For the Good Times”

Johnny Cash – “All Over Again”

Johnny Cash – “He’ll Have to Go”

Tommy Cash – “One Song Away” backed by Statler Brothers

Johnny Cash and June Carter – “Foggy Mountain Top” with Tommy Cash, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, and Statler Brothers

• Johnny Cash – “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” backed by Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters and the Statler Brothers

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jose Feliciano

The fourth episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on October 14, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, and Jose Feliciano along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

R.I.P. to Mac Davis, who died a couple weeks ago at 78. He was a big songwriter who by the time of this show had already written a bunch of hits for Nancy Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and others. I will always think of him for his 1980 single, “It’s Hard To Be Humble,” which was one of my dad’s favorite songs. “I can’t wait to look in the mirror ’cause I get better lookin’ each day.”

Davis was considerably more humble in 1970 with no crossover hits yet as a performer. His single from earlier in the year, “Whoever Finds This, I Love You” had peaked at No. 53 on the Hot 100, and the single he’s promoting here did not chart. Both songs he performs would eventually see release on 1972’s I Believe in Music album, which flopped. But you can already see the twinkle in his eye.

There’s a great story about the first time Linda Ronstadt was on the show back in 1969. It was the third episode of the very first season and 22-year-old Ronstadt had a bit of a wardrobe tussle with June Carter. Entertainment Weekly shared hairdresser Penni Lane’s version of events: “At rehearsal, June noticed that Linda didn’t have any panties on, so she came running back to the dressing room, [saying], ‘Somebody get down the street and buy her some bloomers, she’s out there showing herself! When Linda was told she would have to wear underwear, she was very upset. She said, ‘I sing better bare-butted.’” June’s response at the time? ‘Not in front of my Johnny!’”

This time, a year and a half later, Ronstadt had a lot more clothes on.

Johnny Cash – “Five Feet High and Rising”

• June Carter shares a poem [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Linda Ronstadt – “Long Long Time”

LINDA RONSTADT ~ LONG LONG TIME 1969 HD VIDEO

From Silk Purse (Capitol, 1970).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jose Feliciano

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

The third episode of the final season of “The Johnny Cash Show” aired 50 years ago today on October 7, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Joe South, George “Goober” Lindsey, and Joni Mitchell along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Joni Mitchell had been a guest twice in the show’s initial run in the summer of 1969, but since those appearances she had written a lot of new songs. Her classic album Blue wouldn’t be released for another eight months but she already has two of its highlights ready to go. Alone with a dulcimer on her lap (“California”) or seated at a piano (“My Old Man”), we see a songwriter completely in control of her craft. She’s still a good enough sport though to sing a Bob Dylan cover as a duet with her host!

And how about Joe South? He was a songwriter who wrote a bunch of hits, including my all-time favorite 70s Elvis jam: “Walk A Mile in My Shoes.” Once in college I was making a mixtape in a somewhat elevated state of consciousness and decided it was the perfect song to include on a deeply funky side that featured Funkadelic, Sly Stone, and something off Paul’s Boutique. The next day with a clear head I discovered that “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” wasn’t quite as funky as it had seemed. Oh well, it’s still a jam.

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the Statler Brothers’ “Bed of Roses”? It’s wild. Basically the story of a young orphan who can’t get any help from any of the local churchy people, so he ends up crashing with a charitable sex worker named Rose. So the title of the song is missing the possessive apostrophe in order to appear less scandalous (and because country songwriters love a good pun)!

Johnny Cash – “Southwind”

• June Carter – poem: The world’s first fleas

• George Lindsey – comedy

Joe South – “Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do” [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Joe South (with Johnny Cash, June Carter, and George Lindsey) – “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home”

Joni Mitchell – “California”

Joni Mitchell - California

From Blue (Reprise, 1971).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli

For the last year or so I’ve been setting the DVR to record “The Johnny Cash Show” on GetTV. Back in the golden era of variety shows, when everybody from Ed Sullivan and the Smothers Brothers to Carol Burnett and Glen Campbell had their own primetime shows, the Man in Black got his own one-hour program on ABC.

And it’s awesome. Watching it is like taking a time machine back to an entertainment environment that feels almost entirely alien to today’s slick world where everybody on tv has perfect teeth, appropriately plucked eyebrows, and the exact same measurements. “The Johnny Cash Show” is funky and sincere and goofy and weird in the best way.

According to Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn, ABC was hoping to piggyback on the success of CBS’s new hit, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” Cash agreed to do it as long as he could tape the show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and select his own guests. The production company agreed to the former and evaded the latter.

It started out as just a summer replacement series, debuting on June 7, 1969 with guests Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, fiddler Doug Kershaw, and comedian Fannie Flagg, and running every Saturday night through September 27. The show’s initial run created enough buzz to be renewed for another 17 episodes, starting Wednesday nights in January 1970 and running through May 13, 1970.

The final season of the Johnny Cash Show kicked off 50 years ago today on September 23, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

It was Ray Charles’ 40th birthday. Johnny Cash was 38. Arlo Guthrie was 23. And Liza Minelli was 24.

Like each episode in the series it begins with an instrumental, big band version of “Folsom Prison Blues” conducted by Australian arranger Bill Walker, and then our host introduces himself: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

• Johnny Cash – Medley: “One More Ride” / “Hey Porter” / “Orange Blossom Special” / “Folsom Prison Blues”

• Ray Charles and the Raylettes – “Finders Keepers”

Ray Charles – “I Walk the Line”

Ray Charles – “Ring of Fire”

Ray Charles - Ring Of Fire

From Love Country Style (Tangerine Records, 1970).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli

Sparklehorse – Dark As A Dungeon

MOJO Tribute: Cash CoveredMP3: Sparklehorse – “Dark As A Dungeon”

I just stumbled across this on the Sparklehorse site. It’s from a tribute CD to Johnny Cash from MOJO Magazine back in April 2006. Merle Travis wrote it, but Cash popularized it by featuring it on his live At Folsom Prison album.

So consider this a belated birthday celebration to the Man in Black. I’ve got some strong opinions about the release of American VI: Ain’t No Grave, but I’m keeping them to myself for now.

Sparklehorse: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Continue reading Sparklehorse – Dark As A Dungeon

Lost Classic: Bobbie Gentry – Ode to Billie Joe

Bobbie Gentry - Ode to Billie JoeBobbie GentryOde to Billie Joe (Capitol Nashville)

From the first strums on what sounds like a dime store student guitar and the odd orchestral backing, Bobbie Gentry‘s Ode to Billie Joe is clearly in a different sort of universe. Best known for the title track, which tells the story of young lovers and suicide from the Tallahatchie Bridge, Ode to Billy Joe is as complex as the subject matter suggests.

Video: Bobbie Gentry – “Ode To Billy Joe”

Country Soul is full of sultry songstresses with smoky voices. Dusty Springfield is probably best known, and her “Son of a Preacher Man” is probably the finest example of a genre all but forgotten today. Where the Mandrel Sisters, Dolly Parton and others opted for the lure of pop audiences that eventually brought us to the sorry reality of Rascal Flatts, Springfield and Gentry (along with Jeannie C. Riley of “Harper Valley PTA” fame) skipped the white bread for the grits. The late 60s and very early 70s produced a fantastic crop of Country Soul that sounds as unusual and compelling as ever. That it did not become the dominate cross-over sub-genre is too bad for all of us.

Continue reading Lost Classic: Bobbie Gentry – Ode to Billie Joe

Louis Armstrong on the Johnny Cash Show

I read about this 1970 clip in the most recent music issue of the Oxford American in a great article by Charles Wolfe called Country Music in Black and White:

Then Cash himself, cracking a rare grin, moved in and sat and talked with him about Jimmie Rodgers, one of Cash’s heroes. Yes, Satchmo remembered backing him on “Blue Yodel No. 9,” and yes, it would be fun to try to recreate it. So with Cash playing Rodgers and Armstrong playing—well, himself—the pair brought the audience back to 1930. Cash and Armstrong swapped choruses on the old blues standard—Cash doing a swaggering vocal, Armstrong playing a dynamic, elegant series of trumpet breaks, in spite of the fact that his doctors in New York had told him to stop playing for good.

In a sense, this was one of those unique cultural cusps that seems to occur only in American music—the kind that gave rise to Western swing, rock & roll, and rhythm & blues, one of the better nights at the Ryman, a place, Lord knows, that has seen its share.

I finally got around to searching for it, and of course it’s up on YouTube (thanks to user opurkert). Check out this amazing historical artifact after the jump…

Continue reading Louis Armstrong on the Johnny Cash Show

Johnny Cash, Personal File

Johnny Cash’s Vault Opens – Revelatory, stripped-down tapes from the early 1970s discovered in archive: “Personal File delivers a Cash even his most devoted fans have never heard before: at the height of his career and vocal power, telling the story of his life in music, as if he were sitting across from you.”