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”
• 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