Johnny Cash(3)

August 16, 2007

This strange and intimate portrait of the Man in Black documents the Cash/Carter Family experience as they tour the U.S. in a motor home in the late ’60s. The production has a bit of Blair Witch Project-like jumpiness thanks to the film crew’s zeal in capturing Cash’s every move, but the close-in scenes give you an appreciation for how genuinely Cash interacted with his fans, and how deeply his songs touched the lives and emotions of a wide variety of people. Woven through it are the performances, and the band is in top shape with new member Bob Wootton on guitar. Having been in the group only some four months, Wootton totally nails the iconic tack-hammer twang of Luther Perkins (who died in 1967). Carl Perkins—who initially filled in for Perkins in Cash’s band—is also featured in one of the live segments where, backed by the “Tennessee Three,” he turns in a terrific rockabilly performance of “Blue Suede Shoes” using a Kustom K200C guitar through a piggyback Kustom amp. Other moments of interest include some cool scenes of Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters doing their distinctive brand of folk, a recording session where Cash and Bob Dylan perform a duet of “A Thousand Miles Behind,” the second annual Country Music Awards show in Nashville (the ladies’ hairstyles are awesome!), and some rather bizarre footage of Cash capturing a reluctant “pet” crow by knocking it out of a tree with his shotgun.
—Art Thompson

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