"June Carter sure can sing/ the wildwood flower, the one about the fiery ring/ in a world of country costume jewellery/ she's a diamond ring, June Carter sure can sing." - June Carter Sure Can Sing - Kieran Kane/ John Hadley/ Kevin Welch.

When Kieran Kane eulogised June Carter Cash in a song penned long before her death at 73 on May 15, 2003 he had no idea his lyrics might ring true.

Or that the song penned with touring partner Kevin Welch and John Hadley might be a case of life imitating art.

Kieran Kane - photo by Mark Montgomery
The song appeared on New York born Kane's sixth album Shadows On The Ground in 2002.

Now a storm has erupted about the June Carter Cash-Merle Kilgore song Ring Of Fire on the eve of the autumn tour of Kane and Welch.

Oklahoma born Kilgore, 69 and long time manager of Hank Williams Jr, joked about the song when he introduced it in his concerts.

So it was no surprise Merle, whose 300 song catalogue produced hits such as Wolverton Mountain for Claude King, Johnny Reb for Johnny Horton and Let Somebody Else Drive for John Anderson, jumped at the chance to have the song used in a commercial jingle for an anal relief cream.


A Florida TV production company plans to pitch Preparation H and other hemorrhoid-relief products with a commercial that features Ring of Fire - a 1963 hit for Cash who died at 71 on September 12.

The script starts with a shot of a sunrise, and Kilgore's version of Ring of Fire is the audio.

Ring Of Fire has also been cut by a vast galaxy of artists including the late Frank Zappa and Mark Collie.

The camera pans to a high-rise apartment building and zooms in through an open apartment door to reveal a briefcase and shoes in a messy heap on the floor.

The bathroom door opens, a relieved woman in business attire walks out, and the camera zooms in on a tube of Preparation H in the bathroom.

Kilgore used a hemorrhoid joke onstage whenever he'd introduce Ring of Fire.

''I'd say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I want to give credit where credit is due. I dedicate this song to the makers of Preparation H,' '' Kilgore revealed.

''And they would just fall out. So when the song publisher called and told me about it, I said, 'I can't believe it!' ''

Merle Kilgore


Also in disbelief were Carter-Cash clan survivors headed by Rosanne - singing daughter of the man in black and former singing spouse of Texan troubadour Rodney Crowell.
''There is no way we will ever let that happen,'' Rosanne roared.

''We would never allow the song to be demeaned like that.''

''He (Merle) started talking about this moronic tie-in without talking to any of us,'' said Rosanne, now 47 and latter day wife of producer and songwriter John Leventhal.

''The song is about the transformative power of love and that's what it has always meant to me and that's what it will always mean to the Cash children.''

Merle, best man at the Cash-Carter wedding on March 1. 1968, stepped back from the fire after it burned him.

"'I certainly didn't want to upset the Cash family because I love them," says Merle, "I just thought it was kind of funny.''


Kane was bemused when he learned of the Ring Of Fire blaze storm during an interview to promote his March tour with Welch.

"I wouldn't think they (the Cash family) would be happy with that," Kane, 54, told me in a call from Nashville on the eve of his fifth Australian tour with Kevin Welch.

The duo, co-owners of leading independent Nashville label Dead Reckoning, are here to promote their second duet disc You Can't Save Everybody featuring Fats Kaplin.

Kane, a prolific writer who arrived in Nashville in 1978, practises quality control on his songs used in commercials.

One was from his era in the eighties chart topping duo The O'Kanes.

"The O'Kanes song Will You Travel Down This Road With Me was used in a Diner's Card commercial," Kane revealed.

"Another of my songs was in another back in the early eighties but I can't remember which one it was. Actually the ad was actually quite well done, it was a cable outlet. Not a mainstream TV commercial. I never saw it, someone sent me a copy of it. I imagine if it was on network TV it would be more lucrative. The royalties were not terrible but not enough to retire on."


Unlike Kane's tune I'll Go On Loving You - a hit for Georgian superstar Alan Jackson - and enjoying a second sales spurt on his recent Greatest Hits.

"I was really happy when he put it on his Greatest Hits," says Kane, "it will keep on ticking over the years as long as he keeps on chopping away at it."

Ironically, Kane's latest earner could be a song he wrote in French that has been cut by veteran Texan star Kenny Rogers.

"I was very surprised to learn Kenny had cut it,' Kane said, "it was originally written in French," Kane says, "it's really not much more than a poem in terms of the lyric. Just the same verse over and over again. It was translated into Spanish, Russian, Mohican and other languages. In English it is We Are The Same. Basically saying deep down inside people are the same and wants the same things."


Kane, sired in the New York borough Queens by a sausage maker, developed a penchant for bluegrass as a teenager in Mt Vernon.

He started on drums with his brothers in a family band and hit Nashville after stints in groups at Suffolk University in Connecticut and an extended stay in Los Angeles.

It was there he met Nashville producer-writer Rafe Van Hoy and singing spouse - Texan singer-songwriter Deborah Allen - and drove south to Music City with his own pregnant wife.

The father of three cut his first solo album in 1982 after writing hits for artists diverse as T. G. Sheppard, Dave & Sugar, The Kendalls, Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, Janie Fricke, John Conlee and Ronnie McDowell."

He wrote all 10 songs on his debut disc including his Top 10 hit, You're The Best, and repeated that on his three subsequent solo albums.

Keiran Kane - photo by Mark Montgomery

But it was another Kane song, You've Got A Right To Love Somebody, which earned him his first serious Australian royalties in 1982 when cut by Normie Rowe.

"Bruce Channel and I wrote together quite a lot and that was one of our early efforts," Kane recalled.

"It's one of most recorded songs I've ever written. I'm proud to say Tom Jones did a fine version of it which I'm happy to put in my discography."

Royalties later flowed from chart cuts by acts diverse as Trisha Yearwood, Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, John Prine, George Jones & Tammy Wynette.


But his major breakthrough was teaming with Jamie O'Hara - title track writer of Jones rebirth disc Cold Hard Truth - as the O'Kanes who scored six Top 10 hits on their three albums from 1986-9.

In 1993 drummer Harry Stinson and Kane produced his second solo album Find My Way Home for Atlantic.

Stinson and Welch are partners with Kane in their Dead Reckoning label that released Kane's third disc Dead Rekoning in 1995 and Six Months, No Sun in 1998 featuring In A Town This Size, cut by John Prine on his 16th album In Spite Of Ourselves.

A Night Of Reckoning, featuring the entire label family, in 1997 featured radio rompers I Desire Fire, Cryin' for Nothin', Workin' On It and Waiting For The Assassin.

Photo by Mark Montgomery

Kane and Welch also cut a live disc at the now defunct Continental Café in November, 2000.

Kane exercised his artistic talents by drawing the cover art for fifth album Blue Chair in 2000 and Shadows On The Ground in 2002.


Kane wrote three tunes on the new disc with Kansas born singer-songwriter Sean Locke whose tunes have been recorded by chart topping Californian cowboy Gary Allan and Pinmonkey.

"Sean is a lot younger than I am, we're good friends," says Kane, "he likes writing with me. We have written about 30 songs together. He also writes a lot on his own. You'll hear lot more of him. He wrote Barbed Wire & Roses for Pinmonkey. Gary Allan also recorded his song Don't Look Away for his new album See If I Care.

Allan also recorded the Kevin Welch song Crying For Nothing - that Kevin cut as part of the Dead Reckoners Night Of Reckoning.

Kane and Locke wrote Calling Me in another spontaneous session.

"It was just something that came out when we got together," Kane said, "it was more what the co-writer and I were thinking about. The songs are not pre-meditated. I don't write unless I'm sitting down to work. I don't drive around and get ideas. When I sit down I don't go to a book and say here's a title. I'm not sure if it was more spiritual or philosophical. I'm not sure that I know. I imagine at some point I'll find out, at some point we'll all find out."


It's a sibling song of sorts of Welch tune Too Old To Die Young, originally a hit for Texan singer Moe Bandy.

"That's a great song, it's been around a long time," Kane added, "Kevin thought about recording it a few times. He brought it along for this record and we said why not, let's do it. We were going to play with it, put a vocal harmony with it. We said no, just sing it - that's how it ought to be."

Kane, father of a son, 25, and daughters, 23 and 19, said the song was equally relevant to him.

"If you have kids or any experience with them having children, you want to see them grow up," he said, "you have control of their lives then let them move on, what every parent would like to witness before they move on. You feel like my job is done, it's OK, they'll manage on their own."


Kane and John Hadley, co-writer with Welch of Too Old To Die Young, also penned poignant anti-war song Just Like That.

"Once again I don't know what John and I were thinking about when we wrote that," said Kane.

"It morphed into that. I really don't know the inspiration. I'm not trying to be evasive. I really don't know where they come from. Some times I'll finish writing a song and say that's pretty good or it's a piece of shit. That one I thought turned out pretty well.

It had something to say, doing it live it gets good reaction. It's something I believe. There can be reasons to go to war but it never seems to end anything, there's always another conflict of some kind. It just keeps going on, it has been going on whether you believe in Genesis or evolution it doesn't matter. People have been tumbling and have been having trouble with each other since the beginning of time. I would like to thing there is an end in sight but unfortunately I don't think there is, it's the nature of it."

Kane doesn't expect the song will ignite the storms that tore apart the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith.

"I don't think anything I would record would enter into the fray of controversy," Kane says, "the people that have their feathers ruffled about these things are very popular artists. The world I live in probably 90% wouldn't argue the point."


Welch tunes Dark Eyed Gal, Jersey Devil and Whippoorwill Jack - performed on his 2003 tour with The Flood - are joined on the new disc by his title track, Everybody's Working For The Man and finale song A Prayer Like Any Other.

"Everyone's Working For The Man is a great song," Kane said, "one verse came later after song had been finished. Kevin is moré likely to continue working on a song to make it better. At the end of a day writing I'm more likely to say that's finished."

CLICK HERE for a story on Welch from the Diary on OCTOBER 30.

CLICK HERE for tour dates.

top / back to diary