Our old buddy, Texan, sent me a heads up regarding a new Country song by Heidi Newfield. Heidi was the lead singer for Trick Pony, a popular Country band who scored a few Country hits over the years. On her own now, Heidi recorded a track in tribute to the great love of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
Johnny & June
I’m sure most of you saw “Walk the Line”. While I enjoyed the entertainment of the movie, Reese Witherspoon and Joachim Phoenix did not due justice to the gigantic personalities and the desperate love of Johnny and June. The movie did give us the story but not the real passion of the story.
June Carter grew up as part of the wonderful and ever-popular Carter Family Singers. Along with her mother, Maybelle, and sisters Helen and Anita, they were fixtures on the Grand Ole Opry and Country radio. Growing up in Arkansas, Johnny Cash listened to them on the radio and always carried a soft spot for June.
Sweet Talkin’ Man (with the incredible Chet Atkins)
After a stint in the Air Force, Johnny Cash pursued his dream to become a musical artist, after marrying his first wife Vivian. Recognizing his uniqueness and talent, Sam Phillips of Sun Records signed Cash and added him to the Million Dollar Quartet along with label mates Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
In the meantime, June had married Carl Smith, another Opry brat. Smith had an eye for the ladies and before long their marriage disintegrated. Her divorce caused quite a scandal back in the 1950′s, when divorce was still very taboo, particularly among conservative, religious Country & Western listeners. However, June was a strong woman who just wouldn’t settle for a man with a wandering eye. Her marriage to Carl Smith produced one daughter, Rebecca. Shortly after her divorce from Carl Smith and not covered in Walk the Line, June Carter married Rip Nix — a police officer and sometime race car driver — and had another daughter, Rosie.
Cash had four daughters of his own with first wife, Vivian — Roseanne, Kathleen, Cindy and Tara. Cash’s constant touring, drug use and evident affection for June Carter destroyed his marriage, as well. While he divorced Vivian in 1967, June Carter divorced Rip Nix in 1966. However, as duet partners the two had been spending alot of time together and their obvious affection for one another was evident to those around them.
It Ain’t Me Babe (dedicated to Bob, Sarah and Jesse Dylan)
In 1962, the great songwriter Merle Kilgore wrote the world renowned, Ring of Fire, with June Carter about her love for and obvious conflict over Johnny Cash.
Ring of Fire, June Carter Cash
With six daughters between them, spouses and of course, the court of public opinion, they knew they had no business loving the other, however neither could avoid the vortex of love. While not the most optimal conditions to start a life, Johnny and June risked everything they had personally and professionally, to be together. They just HAD to be.
Interestingly, their obvious affection was transaparent to the public and while some shunned the couple, the majority of fans and music lovers embraced their partnership. In 1968, Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter during a performance in Toronto. She accepted and they were soon married. In 1970, their son, John Carter was born.
In the years since, Johnny and June have served as a source of inspiration for lovers everywhere. They showed many that love conquers all and that sometimes you just have to make it work. Even with yours, mine and ours, hurt spouses, jeopardized careers and public disdain, their love won out. They continued to perform together on Johnny’s Variety TV show and in concert, again outwardly showing the world how absolutely connected they both were to each other. They shared a common sense of humor in addition to a wonderful world of music.
If I Were a Carpenter
‘Cause I Love You
The Loving Gift
Time heals all wounds, so the saying goes. Over the years, Vivian became close friends with the couple and their six daughters became close to their “little brother”, John Carter. At the end of their lives, they enjoyed their family, their farm in Tennessee and of course, each other. In 2002, shortly before June Carter died from complications from heart surgery, Johnny Cash performed a cover of Trent Reznor’s (Nine Inch Nails), Hurt. It won critical acclaim, but the video showed the ravages of time and illness on Johnny.
However, the ever-faithful June stood by her man. Literally. Many thought that she would outlive Johnny by 20 years, given his failing health and the stress and strain that he had put on his body in his younger years. But, life sometimes doesn’t work as anticipated. June passed away at the age of 73 on May 15th, 2003. Just four short months later, her husband of 35 years, J.R. “Johnny” Cash, joined her.