The Johnny Cash Show: He Deserved the Accolades

I got invited at the last minute by Marc for some steaks and salad at a big house in Florence. Then we repaired to the basement where on a giant flat screen, we popped on a DVD. It was “The Johnny Cash show”, a musical variety show that ran from June, 1969 to March 1971 on ABC. Johnny you could tell had the country in the palm of his hand, he was able to get just about everyone to come on and play with him.

So we watched Louis Armstrong, grinning and playing his trumpet, and Eric Clapton, at about 23 with his Dominoes, and when Carl Perkins got up to do a number well you could see the excitement in Clapton’s eyes. Then it was a sexy young Linda Ronstadt. She wasn’t wearing any panties beneath her tiny little long-sleeved dress, and it was said that June Carter made her put some on. She was as sexy as anyone I’ve ever seen on TV as she sang on the show with Johnny about how she’d never get married.

Imagine there being a musician with that kind of pull todayl. Back then there were only 3 networks, yet one devoted a whole hour to this country wiseman, who got Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to come on, and do a twisted re-invention of “Ring of Fire.” Then there was Neil Diamond, so thin and young, and Joni Mitchell and Roy Orbison, I thought that during the break they most likely showed a Marlboro commercial, with a man riding the range with a butt. That was the year just before they banned advertising smokes on TV.

Johnny did one song that was a long, drawn out version of “This land Is Your Land,” with a video montage that you can tell he must have helped create, of iconic American scenery that was touching in its patriotic bent. The men and women he gathered up there on his stage were the biggest musical names of our time…And Cash comes across as the confident ‘good man’ that June his wife sings about. He truly was the Man in Black, and deserved his accolades.