Sunday, January 7, 2007

Walk The Line

If you have already seen the film by James Mangold, Walk The Line, then what I learned today about Johnny Cash will not be a surprise to you. I enjoyed the film very much and I was very impressed with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon's singing. I was also very pleased to see one of my newer favorite actresses, Ginnifer Goodwin from HBO's Big Love in the flim as Cash's first wife, Vivian. The differences in her character in this film compared to her performance as the third wife in Big Love shows how good of an actress she is.

The first thing I learned was that June Carter Cash was a member of the singing family, The Carter Family. I knew nothing about this group other than they were a country singing group in mid-century southern America. The film portrays them as having a lot of class and being very supportive of June and her beau, Johnny.

Vivian (full name Vivian Dorraine Liberto Cash Distin) was Roseanne Cash's mother. I guess I always assumed that June Carter was Roseanne's mother but apparently not. Vivian's other daughter, Kathleen Cash, apparently didn't like how her mother was portrayed in the film. I didn't see anything wrong with how she was portrayed since (1) the film was supposed to be from Johnny's perspective so anyone with half a brain would take that into account when watching it and (2) I don't really think she was portrayed that badly. She seemed to be someone really grappling with being the spouse of a travelling musician.

Also, June Carter Cash wrote one of Johnny's darkest songs "Ring of Fire." This is surprising because most of her songs are quite light.

I have always loved the songs I know by Johnny Cash but since I have not been a huge country fan throughout my life I don't know a lot of his songs. When I was young I did have the Folsom Prison live album but since it skipped, I didn't listen to it much. I just added it to my ITUNES shopping cart. I don't know a lot about this guy, but I know more now thanks to this film and to my fact checking on Wikipedia:

* I learned his brother Jack died at a very young age from an accident involving a table saw.
* I learned Johnny was an addict (amphetamines and barbiturates).
* He played with a band called the Tennessee Two that consisted of guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant.
* He auditioned with Sam Phillips playing gospel songs that Mr. Phillips wasn't very happy with.
* His first song was "Hey Porter" which didn't become a hit but the flip side made it to #6 on the country charts, "Cry Cry Cry."
* He was a member of the Air Force during the Korean War but was stationed in Germany so saw no action.

Currently, there are some country musicians I listen to but most of them are also considered folk or blue grass (Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkison, John Prine, Emmy Lou Harris, Dave Carter and Tracey Grammar and Vermont's own Smokin' Grass). I guess I can add Johnny to the list now.

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