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.
• June Carter shares a poem [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]
From Silk Purse (Capitol, 1970).
• Country Gold: Bobby Bare – “Detroit City”
• Mac Davis – “Poem for My Little Lady”
• Johnny Cash: Ride This Train (Salute To The Delta Queen ft. “The Glendy Burk” / “Proud Mary”)
• Jose Feliciano, Merle Travis and Carl Perkins – “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]
• Johnny Cash – “Country Boy”
• Carl Perkins – “I’ll Fly Away”
• June Carter and Johnny Cash – “Keep on the Sunny Side” joined by Statler Brothers and Mother Maybelle and Carter Sisters [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]
There are places online that suggest that Ronstadt and Cash duet on “Big Yellow Taxi”, “The Old Swimming Hole” and “Water Isn’t Water Anymore” on this episode, but that definitely doesn’t happen on the GetTV broadcast and it’s not mentioned in the detailed notes from the Country Music Hall of Fame. I am inclined to believe this did not happen.