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“The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash”

When I was a younger lad I recall in order of importance there was rock, jazz, blues and classical music. Now its classical, jazz and blues. In neither points in my life was country in the ranking. Perhaps it was an excess of westerns on television.

Where did Johnny Cash stand in my life? Mildly interesting and certainly gutsy with his 1968 Folsom Prison album. He simply was country music to me.

This wonderful documentary about Johnny Cash leads me to conclude he’s not country but rather Johnny Cash as a distinct genre. It is eye-opening to hear from fellow musicians what a distinct style he had. He was enormously influenced by gospel and early American music. He had a tough life growing up in Arkansas but he was glued to the radio.

His style was rustic and primitive full of sin and salvation and a great storyteller he was about the strugglers and down and outers.

In addition to his own taped musings we here from Jackson Browne, June Carter, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Sam Phillips, Graham Nash Robert Duvall and Bruce Springsteen.

Cash’s father was an abusive alcoholic who never het him but never said he loved Johnny. His first marriage went down in flames as be became addicted to uppers and downers. In fact at one point he was arrested 7 times for drug possession He was, like Elvis, signed to Sun Records by Sam Phillips but later signed with Columbia records where he was promised he could record gospel records. He later met June Carter in 1962. Carter was part of the famous Carter family who with roots in the Appalachians performed old time country music.

He cleaned up his act 1n 1968 with the release of the Folsom Prison album and in 1969 launched his television show sober and drug free.

Nd then he came more outspoken about how poorly blacks and native Indians were treated he began to lose favour with his audience. Unfortunately in the 1970’s he was back into drugs. In the 80’s and nineties he simply treaded water playing in low attendance venues.

It’s is accurate to say I am not a fan of today’s country music but now I am a fan of Johnny Cash and lucky for us NY-Columbia/Legacy Recordings will release, “The Gift: The Journey of Jonny Cash” on November 8th that showcases a career spanning selection of 16 essential Johnny Cash recordings.

The film opened in New York On October 11th and will open in Los Angeles on October 25. It is directed by Tom Zimny. As of November 11, it will be available on You Tube.

For a trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAcLbWxGKwo

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