Johnny Cash and American Culture
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
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Table of Contents
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In the spring of 2005, I took a photograph of an East Village store window, where three Johnny Cash T-shirts were prominently displayed. Surrounding them were legions of other T-shirts featuring the bands AC/ DC, Sonic Youth, Led Zeppelin, Ratt, Poison, and Metallica, among others, as well as such iconic figures as John Lennon and David Bowie...
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“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” For twenty five years of his performing life, and even at the height of his fame, Johnny Cash greeted his fans with this phrase.1 Given his popularity, one might think that his self-referential opening line was superfluous. But given a career that took so many turns and engaged so many audiences, perhaps he did need to reintroduce himself at every step...
Chapter 1: Cash Chooses Memphis
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After years of touring, Johnny Cash claimed to know the country so well that he could “wake up anywhere in the United States, glance out the bus window, and pinpoint my position to within five miles. . . . I don’t think talent has anything to do with it. I think it’s just lots and lots of experience. Like the song says, I’ve been everywhere, man. Twice.”1...
Chapter 2: Cash Chooses Columbia
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During a tour out West in the 1950s, Johnny Cash was asked by fellow Sun Records musician Bill Justis, author of the instrumental hit “Raunchy,” to help distribute his records. Cash says the band “stopped at a beautiful scenic overlook on Mt. Hood and distributed those big, brittle old 78s by hand, one by one. They flew really well,” he said...
Chapter 3: Cash Chooses Prison
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Johnny Cash’s connections to prison began with a bit of larceny, one that was not uncovered until some years later. His “Folsom Prison Blues” is a rewrite of “Crescent City Blues” by Gordon Jenkins, the tune itself borrowed liberally from a 1930s instrumental “Crescent City Blues” recorded by Little Brother Montgomery.1 Though “Folsom Prison Blues” takes its melody and the lyrical framework from “Crescent City Blues,”...
Chapter 4: Cash Chooses June Carter
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When Johnny Cash first met June Carter at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, he predicted, “You and I are going to get married someday.” She laughed, “Really?” “Yeah.” “Well, good,” she said...
Chapter 5: Cash Chooses (Not to Choose) Vietnam
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In 1969, Johnny Cash told the story about his involvement in the Vietnam War in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Madison Square Garden. He recounted a conversation he had with a reporter after returning from visiting troops in Vietnam. “That makes you a hawk, doesn’t it?” asked the reporter. Cash told the audience that he answered, “‘No, no, that don’t make me a hawk.’ But I said if you watch the helicopters bring in the wounded boys...
Chapter 6: Cash Chooses Television
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During the taping for television of, The Johnny Cash Show, Cash used to like to have the cue cards held upside down, according to Chance Martin, his lighting director during the 1970s. Turning the cards upside down was a way to tease the producers about their nervousness over allowing a relative amateur to host a show and, according to Martin, a sign of the tension never fully resolved between Cash and the producers...
Chapter 7: Cash Chooses His Faith
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At about the same time that Johnny Cash released his comeback album with Rick Rubin in 1994, he put out the CD version of another large project—a sixteen-volume recording of the New Testament with the noted religious publisher Thomas Nelson. The timing of the two projects typified Cash’s life after his religious reawakening...
Chapter 8: Cash Chooses Rick Rubin
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In 1993, at the now departed Rhythm Café, a dinner theater in Santa Ana, California, Rick Rubin approached Johnny Cash, wondering if Cash would consider recording with him. There was some hesitation on both ends—Cash called his daughter, Rosanne Cash, who knew more about Rubin than he did; and Rubin consulted Tom Petty...
Chapter 9: Cash Chooses Sotheby’s
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Almost a year to the day after Johnny Cash died, Sotheby’s held an auction for his estate, an elaborate affair that featured not only the sale of Cash and Carter’s possessions but also an accompanying exhibit. Cash was not the first celebrity to have his materials auctioned off at Sotheby’s, the most famous perhaps being Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1996...
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Illustrations follow page 146
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Page Count: 312
Illustrations: 24 illus.
Publication Year: 2010