My little boy came into the room while I was writing this. Is that Johnny Cash dad? I asked him what he knew and he told me that a friend in his class and he had been discussing music they loved. They both loved \’Ain\’t No Grave.\’ Believe me when I tell you that this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the man we are about to salute.
It seems that we’re finally getting round to something that’s been looming for a long while. On Friday we are going to spend the two hours that Radio Scotland has given us on Johnny Cash. I naively wondered what we’d do with the time a while back there. Then my producer, Richard asked me for a list of favourite JC tracks and I realised if we were both going to be happy we’d need to take over the airwaves for the whole evening…there’s a thought!
So for good or bad we have two hours in and around the music of Johnny Cash with tributes from friends of the programme as well as an exclusive long chat with Johnny’s only son, John Carter. The excuse (as if we needed one) is the release of American VI – Aint No Grave for which John Carter has acted as associate producer, but the reason is more fundamental. Johnny Cash was part of a huge dynasty of music which goes back to the very first recordings of what we now call country. That music was gospel and rythm and folk and blues and eventually rock ‘n’ roll. Johnny himself was one quarter of the most potent rock ‘n’ roll roster of all time and even now there will be arguments about which one of the Presley, Perkins, Lewis, Cash quartet was the greatest. I wouldn’t begin to try. Competition has no place in the arts for me. Let’s just be glad we have the recordings. And if you’re still not sure….try this
What is particular interesting in the case of Johnny is the fact that his career re ignited in the last years of his life. This wasn’t because he was suddenly on a cool label with a cool producer. It was because that producer decided to do what great producers do; allow the artist to shine through on his own merits. This might explain further.
The singer became the star and anything that got in the way of that voice and the story of these songs was quietly rubbed out. Johnn Cash himself had the idea of singing these songs in that stripped down fashion long before he’d ever met Rick Rubin.
Unfortunately he was then on a record label who’d long forgotten about why they’d signed him in the first place.
On Friday we will play music written and performed by Johnny Cash, music that inspired and influenced Johnny Cash and hear the voices of artists who continue to be influenced by the Man In Black. In my opinion that two hours is going to be worth our license fee alone.
Lest we forget too, Johnny’s life was never straight forward….
One last story. A couple of years ago I visited a boy in hospital. He was the same age as my 2nd eldest daughter. He’d been in hospital for months as he’d suffered a spinal injury paralysing his lower body and limiting the use of his hands. We chatted for a while then I explained I had to go. I was doing a radio programme that night. Was there any country music he might like? Yes, he said, Johnny Cash.
A great post and Friday promises to be another fine instalment of the show. Be interested to see if any of the suggestions from the blog here make it to air! I’m still waiting on my copy of “Ain’t No Grave” but happy for that induction to continue via “Another Country” in the interim.
And on the question as to which of the quartet is the greatest of them all, as you say it’s perhaps best not to even get into it, although suffice to say I’m very much looking forward to seeing Elvis in concert (no, but really!) at the O2 this weekend…
Like Adam I think it is a great blog post this week and I am really looking forward to the show…yet again having to postpone my visit to the pub! I dont have a copy of the new album yet either and dont seem to be able to find it in the shops as yet….will try on Saturday!
I read that Johhny Cash traced his roots back to a ship that sailed from Glasgow and from there to an area of Fife, I cannot reacll much more than that but perhaps we have more reasons to celebrate one of our ain!
Not for me to defend CBS but I think he was on Mercury prior to being signed by Rick Rubin’s American Recordings….but anyway I think Ricky’s point is well made. I have a thought that in this digital age do we really need to wait until artists pass away before we access the vaults!
Actually, my copy finally arrived today, along with my copy of Rosanne Cash’s “The List”, so I’ll be a happy listener this weekend! Still, I’ll of course be putting the CD player on hold within the next half hour and tuning in to the show…
Oh good stuff Adam….The List is superb. We expect anElvis report! :o)
No problem – an Elvis report will most definitely be forthcoming! A little mortified that I’m unable to use the “Listen Live” function to hear the show live tonight (the function seems to be down) but I’ll be checking back in via the iPlayer tomorrow!
Apparently broken iplayer across bbc scotland…. !!
Good to know it’s not just me (I’d tried from two different PCs as it was) – thanks, Norrie!
Listened to an interview that Rick Rubin did for National Public Radio after Mr. Cash passed away. It makes the release today, of “American VI: Ain’t No Grave” all the more important, at least for me.
It was a transcontinental effort to record Tennessee to California and back and forth and all the while Cash was dealing with his illness, autonomic neuropathy which is associated with diabetes. That is one of the more debilitating off-shoots of diabetes. For him to be able to finish that session took incredible fortitude.
Great program and thanks for discussion as well as the music.