Johnny and June

08 Aug

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.

  Turn Around

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.


Johnny and June….a true love story.


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18 responses to “Johnny and June

  1. ivoryhut

    August 8, 2008 at 11:40 am


  2. marymagdalene

    August 8, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Not only is that true love, talk about soul mates!

    Double sigh…

  3. shrewspeaks

    August 8, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    The Vortex of Love…my, my but you do have a sweet turn of phrase.

    Now, I know I am considered the queen of anti-twang here but I must say that Johnny and June are the exception.

    The passion is so deep and powerful that I place their interpretations more in line with the magical stylings of Dylan or Lightfoot. That certain sound a Cash song has, like it’s barreling down upon you, demands attention and the sweet tenderness intermingled with this electric emotion claws at your heart.

    Johnny and June’s version of Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” is so jubilant in it’s honest reading. And “The loving Gift” is just such a beautiful tribute of one couple knowing the precious thing they have here on Earth.

    Cash’s “Hurt” is one of the most raw and poignant covers I have had the pleasure to hear in recent years. His obvious melancholy at the moment of passing he and his beloved were sharing is terrible and wonderful all at once. His pain of impending loss directly proportional to the joy of having known such love is staggering.

    As for Texan’s suggestion (waves at lovely lovely Texan) of Newfield’s Johnny & June….what a cute song! And Yes, I too want to love like Johnny & June.

  4. music maven

    August 8, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Yes, Shrew I know of which I speak. That vortex gets you all out of control and very single-minded. “It’s a burning thing….”

    BTW, your turn of phrase ain’t so bad either.

    I find that Johnny & June are just plain honest in their love and devotion to one another. Viewing the countless clips on YouTube of the two of them together, some of my favorites are the humorous exchanges….like this.

    They thoroughly enjoyed each other and being together. They didn’t plan it, they just were.

    • Siouxie Banshee

      November 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      um… vivian and the couple became friends later in life??!!?!?!?! Have u read Vivian’s memior? She remained in love with Johnny until the day she died; she assigned 100% of the blame for the affair and subsequent divorce/marriage to June Carter, and THEN, THEN, after Vivian made half-hearted claims of faith and forgiveness, blah blah…she couldn’t contain her overwhelming joy at June’s passing. She had her daughters giving her hourly updates as June’s condition worsened! June was scarcely cold and Vivian had made arrangements (leaving second hubby at home) to visit Johnny in Nashville. Granted, the woman had every right to be hurt, angry, etc, but this is no tale of “time healing all”–or forgiveness for that matter. Vivian rattles on in her book about how she should have fought harder to protect her marriage from the predatory June, how Johnny never would have left her if June hadn’t used her DEMON-GIVEN powers to control him, and how June used drugs and supplied them to John as well thru their entire 30+ year union. She remarried quickly after her divorce from Johnny to, by all accounts, a good man who loved her very much. She spent the majority of her later years alienating the man who loved her–continuing to watch every interview with Johnny and never missing a chance to slam the demonic June! In essence, Vivian did to her 2nd husband what Johnny did to Vivian: she was openly in love with a man other than her husband. Sick. No warm fuzzy forgiveness here!

  5. music maven

    August 8, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Sorry, link didn’t work….

  6. shrewspeaks

    August 8, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    and look at this one He can’t keep his hands off of her!

  7. dpcpastor

    August 8, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    this is a lovely tribute to Johnny and June. I agree with your comments about the movie except I think you may have been to generous. I wrote a post on my blog about it a few months ago. Here is the link, let me know what you think:

  8. music maven

    August 8, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Pastor, that was wonderful. Many “religious” forget that Christ very rarely, if ever, ministered to the perfect and pious. He sought out those in need of God’s grace and yes, Johnny “got” grace. Just as I pray to receive, myself. Perhaps that’s why Johnny found bliss with June. Once he “got” grace, he seemed to receive his heart’s desire.

  9. dpcpastor

    August 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Your exactely right! there’s was an all american love story. would you cut and paste your comment as a response to mypost. I think my readers would appreciate it.

    ALso, the scene in the video of “Hurt” where June stands behind him looking down. Words cannot describe the love displayed there.

  10. Texan

    August 9, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Like MM, I rarely listen to radio these days. I heard this song on my daughter’s iPod. I found several artists I have never heard of on hers. iPod play list surfing feels very guerilla mom to me, I do ask before I plug hers in. I am happy to find that she readily hands over the cherished thing! I loved Newfield’s lyrics and her homage to the late great Johnny and June. There is much to learn from those two!

    Johnny and June’s soul knot warms my heart and has always reminded me of the deep bond my Dad and Step Mother shared. They had a turbulent start, but remained deeply, truly, soulfully attached for 47 years. They were “one” in the Johnny/June way in my eyes. My Step Mom passed away a few weeks ago. We are keeping an eye on Dad now. The Newfield song hit a parallel and caught my ear.

    Always nice to read your posts MM! I catch your blog as often as I can, but not nearly often enough! I am looking forward to catching up on posts I missed along the way.

    ::: waving back at ‘cha friends! :::

    Dylan and Cash link below: Two on my “Best of the Gender” List!

  11. Colette

    August 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    The June and John story is a sweet one, though it’s been might tough on Johnny’s daughter Roseanne Cash. She feels , rightly or wrongly, that her own Mom (Johnny’s first wife) was not portrayed fairly in the movie and other accounts of Cash’s life, and it’s apparently a sore point among the siblings.

    That’s not rare in blended families, I’ve found, though it takes on more intensity when the family is so famous! I do want to note, however, what a wonderful artist Roseanne is, and how proud her daddy was of her talents.

    Recently she overcame brain surgery, and is back making music. And here she is in tribute to her dad, with a lovely version of one of my favorite songs of his — Willie Nelson’s plaintive tune, “I Still Miss Someone”:

  12. music maven

    August 10, 2008 at 8:05 am

    I always liked Roseanne Cash, from the point I heard Tennessee Flat Top Box.

    Yes, there is always some resentment of children who are “left” and I don’t think this is a new emotion for Roseanne Cash. I believe that she and her sisters genuinely cared for June Carter and appreciated their father’s happiness with her, but it’s just normal to have allegiance and sensitivity to your own mother.

    Vivian Cash wrote her own story, I Walked the Line, before her death in 2005. The book concentrated on letters that Johnny wrote her before they were married and he was away in the Air Force. He authorized the use of the letters as a way to try to make some amends for the hurt caused to Vivian and their daughters by his sprial into substance abuse and his leaving.

    I’m sure for Roseanne and her sisters, watching the facts of her father’s relationship with June was not easy. However, John Carter Cash addressed this in an interview:

    Your half-sister, Kathy, was interviewed a week ago by the Nashville Tennessean after members of the family watched an advance screening of the film. She said she walked out of the film five times because she thought her mother, Vivian Liberto Distin, was treated poorly. Is it hard when you’re making a film like this to make everybody happy?

    Well, what we have is a story about the formation of a relationship–a strong relationship. My father was a wildfire. Really. Nobody could save him from anything. His family turned away from him, and he broke up with his first wife. It just happened to be that when he was going to get back up on his feet, my mother was there. The movie is not about his relationship with Vivian [who died earlier this year]. That was never my father’s intention, or my mother’s, to have a movie about their life before they met. What they wanted was a movie about their love, about their life together with God. However anybody feels–how I feel, or how my sister feels or whatever–I still stand strong and true and firmly that this is the movie that my parents together would have made. That’s all that matters to me. “

  13. Colette

    August 10, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Very interesting, MM. Thanks for posting. It’s a fascinating family altogether, no? And glad you like Roseanne too.

    Thought you might enjoy this also — Roseanne singing a poignant duet with Johnny on “September When It Comes,” not long before he died. The video has beautiful stills of the Cash/Carter clan.

  14. Colette

    August 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    woops, here’s the link:

  15. Kim Burgamy

    May 29, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    i just watched walk the line. My God what a love story! Touched me to the core!

  16. Mark

    February 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I feel like I am in the same situation!!!! Thank you for showing me this Jill!!
    I love you!

  17. Roberto

    May 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Very touching, indeed!! It teaches us that true love exists when there are true values.


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