- “You Have to Call Me the Way You See Me”
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On August 20, 2003, mtv News correspondent Kurt Loder sat down with Johnny Cash at his home near Nashville for what would be Cash’s final press interview. Cash had been nominated for six mtv Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, for his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” (The video eventually went on to win Best Cinematography.) Portions of this interview aired on mtv in advance of the 2003 vmas, but we are pleased to publish the interview in full here for the first time. In the interview, the ailing Cash discusses his storied career, including its pitfalls (drugs) and graces (June), a new generation of fans, and the key to a successful marriage. [End Page 5]
In His Own Words
You want to powder me, you said? Better do it right now.
If I can get to you. You look really good though!
Okay, let’s don’t do it. [laughs]
I’m right here if you need me.
Alright, honey. Okay.
How is your friend Marty Stuart doing?
He’s doing good.
I bet he’s on the road.
I think he is. He worked a session at my studio last week, but I think he’s on the road now.
Well, I bet he enjoyed that.
He lives nearby, right?
Mm hmm, next door.
Pretty close by.
He lives in the house that’s between this house and Roy Orbison’s house.
Really? Oh, man. How big is your studio?
It’s . . . well, it’s big enough. It was a log cabin and we converted it into a studio and then we added a room for musicians just recently. It’s, oh, it’s not a really big studio—just adequate, you know?
Yeah, as long as you can make music and record it. That’s probably enough.
Yeah, I never believed in big ballroom-looking studios. Don’t need ’em.
That’s true. What kind of studio do you record in with Rick Rubin?
Record in his house.
An even smaller studio.
How are we looking here?
We are all set. Give it a whirl.
You’ve been a star forever, and you’re still as big a star as you’ve ever been. You’ve got these six Video Music Award nominations, how do you feel about that?
Kind of overwhelmed. [laughs softly] I’m very grateful for the nominations and for all the votes.
Did you enjoy the video process? Do you like to make videos?
Not especially. No, not especially. [End Page 6]
Well, I don’t know, it’s just work. Sometimes it’s really fun, and I enjoy it very much, usually. But the getting there and all that, no . . . I enjoyed doing the “Hurt” video. And I enjoyed doing that very much because I felt we were doing something worthwhile—that it was something that was kind of special.
Whose idea—who came up with the concept of the “Hurt” video?
Mark Romanek, the director.
How did you feel about it? It’s a very heart-wrenching video, sort of personal.
Well, as you say, personal. I was there personally, right in the middle of the thing. So after it was put together and I saw it, I watched it with kind of a critical eye, you know? See what I could find wrong with it. I didn’t find much wrong with it at all. And I called Mark and told him so—that it was a job well done and I was proud of it. Same with Rick Rubin. I called Rick and told him that I appreciated his input, that I felt like it was really a good video. So...