DIARY - 15 FEBRUARY 2011 - JOHN CARTER CASH INTERVIEW
AND CARRY IN SOUTH YARRA
I'm Johnny Cash/one night I had a backstage pass to the Willie Nelson
show/ there were wackos and weirdoes and dingbats and dodos/ and athletes
and movie stars and David Allan Coe/ there was leather and lace and every
minority race/ with a backstage pass to the Willie Nelson Show."
- A Backstage Pass - John R Cash.
is 1991 - roots country reigns on community radio, street press and oases
in the mainstream print media.
And the South
Yarra Saloon - formerly a wealth belt gay bar known as Masie's - features
the genre to lure music lovers.
that's the logical locale for The Highwaymen entourage to unwind
after a Rod Laver Arena concert.
also where John Carter Cash got lost in the mists of time and booze
that have long been a staple of the Cash-Carter DNA and dynasty.
John Carter, only son of the late Johnny and June Carter Cash, doesn't
remember much about the night he was "kidnapped" by the
new breed highwaymen - Texan outlaws and Aussie compadres.
lecture from his parents ensured the latter day producer would rarely
become lost again with those hedonistic hombres in Shotgun Willie Nelson's
There was also a stint in rehab shortly after he went back home to Music
Now, for almost 10 years, Cash has catalogued and resurrected historic
tapes his dad meticulously preserved in his studio so they would not be
The result - the Columbia/Legacy Records two CD set Bootlegs 2: From
Memphis to Hollywood.
It's sequel to Personal File a/k/a Bootleg Vol. 1 - two-CD
set of 49 songs featuring Cash solo on guitar and recorded from 1973-1982,
and released in May of 2006.
They are among many projects that the creative Cash clan archivist has
embarked on in a career that has already won him five Grammy Awards.
He recently produced Loretta Lynn tribute disc, Coalminer's Daughter,
with one of the Lynn twins - Patsy - and released two solo albums and
a third generation Carter Family CD.
And, of course, he appeared with his dad and other Highwaymen in the western
movie Stagecoach before a DJ role in the 2005 Walk The Line
movie that also found him executive producer.
But let's briefly revisit that fateful night - final of five Australian
tours with his mum and dad.
"If we were hanging out and we got lost we really were having a very
big night," Cash, now 41, told Nu Country TV in a call from his Cash
Cabin studio in Nashville.
"That was probably my wilder years - that was one of the wildest
years of my life actually.
I'm sure we had a great night. I may well have gone to the saloon but
I don't remember it.
I remember being in Melbourne with the Highwaymen in 1991. Back in 1991
I might have been having a really big time in Melbourne. There may have
been no hope for me other than to get lost."
waitin' in the wings to sing with Willie/ were hopeful stars of flickering
magnitude." - A Backstage Pass - John R Cash.
tape recovery - not loss - that has the prolific producer preserving the
rich history of famous father Johnny who died at 71 on September 12, 2003.
Cash and Greg Geller rescued rare recordings of the man in black's early
recording career and Memphis radio show.
"He had a storage vault where he kept all these tapes," Cash
revealed. "After he passed away we went through the vault and documented
all these things. With the help of Sony Records we transferred all the
tapes to digital so they would last forever. The Personal File was also
stuff that was in those storage vaults. There's a lot of stuff there with
great heart, lot of stuff never saw the light of day. It's good to get
the music out there. The genesis of this was my father never threw anything
away. Dad cherished his recordings whether or not the record company thought
it was the time to release or whether the record company cherished them
or not. He had put away these recordings in storage.
There's lot of different stuff - mostly my father's archives, things he
put away so hopefully one day they would be appreciated."
were just a plain ol' hillbilly band with a plain ol' country style/ we
never played the kind of songs that'd drive anybody wild/ played a railroad
song with a stomping beat/ we played a blues song, kinda slow and sweet."
- Luther Played The Boogie - John R Cash.
1 includes seven outtakes from Sun Records produced by Sam Phillips
and singer-songwriter Cowboy Jack Clement who opened for Cash on his
1985 Australian tour.
"I have been to Australia many times, the first when I was one-year
old," Cash twice wed father of three children, revealed.
"I went regularly until I was 21. I've always loved Australia,
always loved the people.
Cowboy Jack worked with my dad all through the eighties. He was also
engineer on the Sun Sessions in the fifties. They got to be good friends
back then. And they stayed dear friends throughout his whole lifetime."
The disc includes a 15-minute live radio broadcast that Cash hosted
from KWEM, Memphis on Saturday, May 21, 1955 - the month he recorded
his first single Cry! Cry! Cry!
Cash worked for Home Equipment Company - show sponsor - located across
the street from the radio station.
He sang Belshazzar,
Luther's Boogie, One More Ride and Wide Open Ride - with The
Tennessee Two - late guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant.
Some of the Memphis radio shows were featured in the Walk The Line
"That's more of the things that my father had put away," Cash
"I believe if he knew this was coming out now he would have been
very grateful he had put them away to be released later. He had the foresight
to do that. In the extended version of the Walk The Line movie
I play the DJ Bob Neal who was around at the same time. I was executive
producer of Walk The Line and it was a real blessing to do that."
Shooter Jennings played his late father Waylon in the movie in which Joaquin
Phoenix was cast as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.
got an offer for a movie/promoters closed another deal or two/Waylon got
a call from his son Shooter/and he went home the minute he was through."
- A Back Stage Pass - John R Cash.
So what about
that role with his dad, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, the late Waylon
Jennings and widow Jessi Colter, David Allan Coe, John Schneider, Glen
Clark and Anthony Newley in 1986 movie Stagecoach?
"That still sees the light of the day quite often," Cash revealed.
"I was 15 years old then. I played a character named Billy Picken
(not the former Collingwood and Hamilton footballer.) When you've only
been in two movies in your lifetime you always remember all of those lines
for the rest of your life. I portrayed a boy who ran an outpost. I was
very well fed when I was 15. He took control of this big farm in the desert.
It was a blessing to be part of that movie. I turned it on the other day
and there I was."
Stagecoach was released the same year as The Last Days of Jesse
James - Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Swan, Donnie Fritts,
June Carter Cash, Ed Bruce, Earl Poole Ball, Cash's stepbrother Jack Wesley
Routh, son John Jackson and Marcia Cross were among the cast.
was born to be known/ as everybody's brother/ he is the Father Son and
Mary is his mother/ He is a 'scuse my slanguage, well a compound country
kinda guy/ yes he is ain't no way to get around it, you just can't beat
Jesus Christ." - You Can't Beat Jesus Christ - Billy Joe Shaver.
also produced the Peasall Sisters song Where No One Stands Alone
for new Jeff Bridges movie True Grit - a remake of the original
starring the late John Wayne, Robert Duvall and Glen Campbell.
produced their record few years back and they're extremely talented,"
"They're also on the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art
Thou movie. It was a blessing to be able to do that and I believe
in their music."
Bridges also played a character Bad Blake loosely based on another
of Cash's clients septuagenarian Billy Joe Shaver in Crazy Heart.
Carter Cash scored a Grammy nomination for production of Billy Joe's
2007 gospel CD Everybody's Brother.
Cash was bemused to learn Shaver recently filled out an application
to remarry second wife Wanda - the nurse he wed after first wife
Brenda, whom he married three times, died in Waco.
good, I think they might have done this before," Cash joked about
the Texan who attended Little Rock, Arkansas, last month to watch his
friend Robert Moore being sworn in as the state Speaker of the House.
Shaver, acquitted last year of shooting a relative of Wanda who stirred
his drink with a knife at Papa Joe's Saloon at Lorena south of Waco, sang
several songs a capella at the ceremony.
MINUTES TO LIVE
all can you give/with five minutes to live/hear the tock tick tock of
the laughing clock/ what will you do or say/ maybe you oughta pray/ but
you better think positive/ you got five minutes to live." - Five
Minutes To Live - John R Cash
Disc 2 covers
Cash's first 11 years at Columbia from 1958-1969 - with rare B-sides and
Several versions of songs not released in U.S. are on the 25-track disc
- including Five Minutes to Live and The Frozen Logger.
Cash had moved his family including daughter Rosanne to Los Angeles where
he worked as a songwriter and actor in movies and TV.
His dual career boosted popularity of gunfighter ballads and story songs
popular in late 1950's and 1960's.
Johnny Yuma Theme, Restless Kid, Hardin Wouldn't Run and Shifting,
Whispering Sands with actor Lorne Greene, preceded his role in 1971
western A Gunfight with Kirk Douglas.
But was it Cash's role in the movie Five Minutes To Live that sourced
the title track?
"The fact that he was in the film, he wrote the song hoping that
it would be part of the movie," Cash said.
"It's great that it's coming out now after all these years - there
are some gems in there."
What about Shifting Whispering Sands?
"We found the alternative version in the vault," Cash said.
"The original version from the movie is, I believe, on his Ballads
Of The True West but this is the version that was never released."
The gunfighter ballads struck a chord with the archivist.
"That's some of my favourite stuff, he ever did actually," Cash
"The Ballads Of The True West and Bitter Tears, they're
probably my two favourite Johnny Cash records other than the ones I worked
Cash worked with Rick Rubin as associate producer on Johnny Cash's Grammy
winning records American III: Solitary Man and American IV:
The Man Comes Around, the latter receiving three CMA awards.
He was also associate producer on American V: A Hundred Highways
and American VI: Ain't No Grave.
AND FOLK MUSIC
unearthed his dad's recordings of Mississippi pioneer Jimmie Rodgers Brakeman's
Blues and Lead Belly standard Goodnight Irene.
They echo his early interest in folk music - 14 years before his records
with Bob Dylan in Nashville.
"He recorded a few Jimmie Rodgers songs, one of which was on the
American V CD," Cash recalled.
"Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family and Hank Snow, that was what
he listened to. They were his major country influences. He was greatly
influenced by gospel - Sister Rosanna Tharp and other stuff."
So what about the Dylan collaborations?
"The foresight they had, it was all of joy his work with Dylan, what
they did," Cash said.
"They enjoyed being around each other and they played off each other's
creativity very well. They were dear friends."
CASH SOLO CAREER
Angels blocked the traffic to the building/ in order for the beer truck
to come through/ and waitin' in the wings to sing with Willie/ were hopeful
stars of flickering magnitude." - A Backstage Pass - John R Cash.
released his first solo CD, Bitter Harvest, in 2003, followed by
The Family Secret.
wife Laura - a fiddler and singer - and cousin Dale Jett, grandson
of A.P. and Sara Carter, also released a CD as The Carter Family
III - Past And Present.
"The Family Secret is available on Amazon online but hasn't
been released in Australia yet," Cash said.
"I've been in the studio today recording more of my own material.
Laura Cash is an amazing fiddle player and vocalist. Dale Jett is
from southwest Virginia and he's the real deal as far as I'm concerned.
Noone is doing it as pure and true as he is. He's the grandson of
A.P. and Sara Carter. The project I'm working on now I'm calling it
Fables - mainly story songs. It's pure music - minimal instrumentation."
produced his mother June Carter Cash's CD, Press On that won a
Grammy in 1999 and Wildwood Flower that scored a Grammy for best
traditional folk album in 2003.
His 2004 production Unbroken Circle: Musical Heritage of The Carter
Family won three Grammy nominations.
He also produced his mother's tribute disc Anchored In Love, and
wrote the accompanying biography book.
Cash is also co-producer of brother-in-law Marty Stuart's 2006 CD, Badlands:
The Voice of the Spirit, The Gospel of the South, and others by step
sister Rosanne and another brother in law, Rodney Crowell.
Other production credits include Loretta Lynn, Josh Turner, Brooks &
Dunn, Billy Joe Shaver, Elvis Costello, Wylie & Wild West, George
Jones, Mavis Staples, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander,
Norman and Nancy Blake, Tim O'Brien, Dave Matthews, Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Earl and Randy
Scruggs, John Cowan, Todd Snider, Vince Gill, John Prine and Tony Rice.
Cash has also written three illustrated children's books - Momma Loves
Her Little Son March, Daddy Loves His Little Girl and The Cat in
the Rhinestone Suit.
"The Cat In The Rhinestone Suit will be coming out in 2012,"
Cash said. "I have the other two books out at the moment. I had a
lot of fun putting them together."
Cash hopes to build on his Grammy successes with his dad's new bootleg
"I have been a producer on five Grammy winning records, some of those
records I only produced one song," Cash said.
"I'm hoping this project will also be nominated."
And what about the future for the long sober archivist?
"It's great talking to you again," he joked, "I'll talk
to you again in another 20 years."
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