Art + Design: Happy Birthday Johnny Cash
Tomorrow, February 26th would have been Jonny Cash’s 79th birthday. In honor of the day, Sony Music has just released From Memphis to Hollywood, Bootleg Vol. 2.
Below is an excerpt written by Jim Marshall from the afterword of Pocket Cash.
Jim Marshall, February 2010
I first met Johnny Cash when he was hanging out with Bob Dylan at some Greenwich Village nightclub in 1962. We just hit it off. I photographed him at the Newport Folk Festivals. When I came back out to San Francisco in ’64, we stayed in touch.
When Columbia Records agreed to do the Folsom Prison shows—producer Bob Johnston talked them into doing it—John called them to have me shoot the concerts.
There was one other photographer there; I don’t know if he even got inside. I had unlimited access at Folsom; I could go anywhere I wanted. Pop music writer Bob Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times was there—one of his first assignments for the paper. He’s in some of the photos. The album, At Folsom Prison, was recorded on a four-track. John brought his whole show—the Statler Brothers, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Carl Perkins, with the Tennessee Three.
Cash stepped down off the bus just as the steel doors to the prison clanged shut and said, “There’s a feeling of permanence to that sound.” He went into Greystone Chapel and meditated, prayed there for a little bit. It was small, held maybe forty, fifty people. He was going to record a song called “Greystone Chapel” written by one of the inmates, Glen Sherley. He cared about the prisoners a lot. He cared about the conditions and tried to help improve them….
… Johnny had an edge. When John walked in a room, you knew he was there. There was a hint of danger, but I don’t think he was a violent man. You just knew he was there. He had a presence that very few artists have. I think it shows in the photographs.
He didn’t suffer fools gladly. He kept a close bunch of friends that were very tight to him. The people who loved him, loved him fiercely, and vice versa. His wife, June Carter, was his lifeline. I remember when they got back together, about a year before the Folsom concerts. He stopped doing drugs. June kept him off the drugs and saved his life. I think the day she died, he died.
Do you have a favorite Johnny Cash song? Add a comment below. We’ll select five comments at random to win a copy of From Memphis to Hollywood, Bootleg Vol. 2.
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