Transcript for the Piece Audio version of Johnny Cash: Amazing Grace

Johnny Cash: Amazing Grace

Music: Gospel Boogie

JCC: You know, I don?t think my dad ever really cared what the record companies thought, or what the atheists thought or what the politicians thought. He just pursued what was the next right thing in his spirit, and he did that naturally and joyously.

WHEN A YOUNG MAN NAMED JOHNNY CASH TRIED TO GET HIS FIRST RECORD DEAL, HE TOLD SAM PHILIPS OF SUN RECORDS THAT HE WAS A GOSPEL SINGER. PHILIPS TOLD HIM ?NO THANKS.?

BUT THAT DIDN?T STOP CASH FROM RECORDING AND PLAYING GOSPEL SONGS. IN TIME, CASH TOOK HIS FAITH A LOT FURTHER. HE BECAME A BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, A RELIGIOUS WRITER, EVEN AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

IN THE NEXT HOUR, WE?RE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL WORLD OF JOHNNY CASH FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS, AND HEAR A LOT OF GOSPEL TUNES.

I?M RODNEY CROWELL, AND WELCOME TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.?

Music: continues

JOHNNY CASH WAS FIRST AND FOREMOST A STORYTELLER, AND SOME OF HIS FAVORITE STORIES TO TELL WERE FOUND IN THE BIBLE. VERY EARLY IN HIS CAREER, CASH WROTE A SONG CALLED ?BELSHAZZAR? THAT COMES STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL.

Music: Belshazzar (2:25)

?BESHAZZAR? PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH IN 1957.

EARLY IN JOHNNY?S LIFE, THE CASH FAMILY WENT TO AN ASSEMBLY OF GOD CHURCH. IT LEFT AN IMPRESSION.

DAVE URBANSKI IS THE AUTHOR OF ?THE MAN COMES AROUND: THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH.?

DU: Johnny Cash?s mom, as a young child, took him to church, and the brand of faith was more emotional and expressive and fire-and-brimstone loud, really good music, but really kind of in-your-face, people expressing themselves in a way that?s far from reserved and quiet, it?s the opposite of that. I do know from the research that when Johnny Cash was very young, that he was scared of the church because of that. All that stuff kind of freaked him out.

THE MUSIC CAUGHT HIS ATTENTION. HE WAS AROUND IT ALL THE TIME.

CASH?S SON, JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: His joy for old time gospel was directly from his mother, from growing up listening to her play piano, from singing the gospel songs with her, from learning songs from the hymnal and singing them in church, The joy in his spirit is where the gospel comes from. His mother, Carrie, my dad's mother, Carrie, was the first influence in joy for gospel music and that's where he began his studies, with her as a young boy.

Music: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (1:52)

?SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT? PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

CASH ALSO STUDIED THE BIBLE WITH HIS OLDER BROTHER JACK, WHO WAS VERY DEVOUT AND PLANNING ON GOING INTO THE CLERGY. AFTER JACK TRAGICALLY DIED AT AGE 14, THE CASH FAMILY TURNED EVEN MORE TO THE CHURCH.

JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: My father, early on in life, talked a good bit about Jack, about who Jack was to him. Jack was an inspiration to my dad in that I think my dad aspired to be like Jack in many ways. Jack knew those gospel songs, Jack sang those songs and learned them from my grandmother and my dad was right there with him learning them and singing them. I think when Jack died, he saw a path that he might've followed headed in a different direction because the music took over healing in his soul I believe. Who knows if they both, had Jack lived, would've gone on to be pastors. I think that that may have been the path and direction. Of course my dad became a pastor later in life as my grandfather did after Jack's passing. it was a tragedy losing Jack. It was a sad thing but out of that darkness and out of that pain, I feel like there was great light to come.

Music: I Call Him (1:45)

?I CALL HIM,? WRITTENAND PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

YOU?RE LISTENING TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.? I?M RODNEY CROWELL.

AS CASH?S MUSIC GREW MORE POPULAR IN THE 50?S, HE STARTED TAKING DRUGS AND GETTING INTO TROUBLE. THAT FAST LIVING TOOK ITS TOLL. AT ONE POINT IN THE 60?S, HE CRAWLED INTO NICKAJACK CAVE IN TENNESSEE, TRYING TO COMMIT SUICIDE.

PATRICK CARR CO-WROTE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CASH.

Patrick Carr: Cash's story is that he was always a Christian, but boy did he ever stray. As soon as he got into pills and started down that road, as he puts it, he got very far away from God. He says that he was saved from addiction by God. He walked into that cave to die, and it was God that lead him out, so there was a direct intercession in his life, which he interpreted as God, the voice of God inside him telling him it wasn't his time to die. So he gave his life to God, and chose the Christian God of his childhood and dove into study. And it was a very serious thing with him. It wasn't casual church going, not just a part of what you did, and it certainly wasn't an unquestioned belief, he had questioned it all his life.

JACK ROUTH PRODUCED, PLAYED GUITAR AND WROTE SONGS WITH CASH IN THE 1970?S. HE SAW CASH?S OPEN RELIGIOSITY ON A DAILY BASIS.

JR: John was a man of faith. He danced all around the perimeters, too, but he always had his faith, and of course June had it, too, so I had never been so involved in it until then, and it was something to see, because it was prayer before every meal, at bedtime, on plane trips, prayer before the plane takes off and after the plane lands, you know.

Music: Troublesome Waters (3:49)

?TROUBLESOME WATERS? PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

AUTHOR DAVE URBANSKI.

DU: I think it was always a struggle. I think that what made him such a great artist is that he let it all hang out, and allowed people to see the weak parts of himself. Otherwise, I think if he had overcome too much, to the point where the dark side wasn?t there, where the memories weren?t as clear or as vivid or right next to him like it happened just yesterday, his music wouldn?t have been as compelling.

THE WORDS TO THIS NEXT GOSPEL TUNE ARE ALL ABOUT THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE DARK AND LIGHT SIDES OF HUMANITY. ENGLISHMAN JOHN NEWTON WROTE THEM IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY. YEARS BEFORE, NEWTON HAD QUIT HIS JOB AS A SLAVESHIP MASTER TO BECOME AN ANGLICAN PRIEST.

Music: Amazing Grace (2:27)

?AMAZING GRACE? SUNG BY JOHNNY CASH.

IN A MINUTE, JOHNNY CASH PROCLAIMS HIS FAITH ON LIVE TELEVISION AND LENDS A HAND TO REVEREND BILLY GRAHAM.

I?M RODNEY CROWELL, AND YOU?RE LISTENING TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.?

Break 1 with music bed (1:00)

WELCOME BACK TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.? I?M RODNEY CROWELL.

CASH?S SON, JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: I believe my dad shared his joy, and that?s what it was about. And he was joyous about his salvation, about who he believed Christ to be, about the way his spirit felt when he sang that music, and it?s the Christian creed to share one?s faith, but my father never tried to push it down anybody?s throat, he just had fun. The thing was, he could get up in front of a crowd and sing ?Cocaine Blues? and ?I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,? and then later, by the time he got those hellions roped in, then he?d throw 5 or 6 gospel songs in their face, you know? (laughs) However it worked, it worked well, and I believe he touched a lot of people with his inspiration, his soul, his spirit. My father fell short, but he wasn?t afraid to proclaim it and wasn?t afraid to say where his salvation was.

Music: Strange Things Happening Everyday (3:32)

?STRANGE THINGS HAPPENING EVERYDAY,? WRITTEN BY SISTER ROSETTA THARPE AND PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

ALTHOUGH CASH DIDN?T PUSH HIS FAITH ON ANYONE, THERE WERE GOSPEL SONGS FEATURED IN EVERY CONCERT HE PLAYED. BY THE LATE 60?S, CASH HAD KICKED THE DRUGS AND DELVED INTO THE BIBLE. HE FINISHED EACH EPISODE OF HIS TELEVISION PROGRAM ?THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW? WITH A GOSPEL SONG.

PATRICK CARR CO-AUTHORED AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CASH.

Patrick Carr: His consciousness was very absorbed in all that. He was losing interest in a lot of other things as this became more and more his prime interest. And he declared on TV, the CBS network, that he was a christian and got a lot of negative feedback. That was in 1968 or 69, not a good time for somebody in America to get up on TV and say they were christian, and CBS got real annoyed with him. And that basically lead to the divide that lead him departing from the TV screen.

ON HIS TELEVISION SHOW, CASH LOVED TO TELL STORIES ABOUT THINGS THAT INTERESTED HIM: NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY, TRAINS, AND IN THIS NEXT SONG, THE LIFE OF JESUS.

Music: Here Was A Man (2:55)

FROM ?THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW,? THAT WAS CASH?S HISTORY OF JESUS CALLED ?HERE WAS A MAN.?

YOU?RE LISTENING TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.? I?M RODNEY CROWELL.

JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: I think that part of his proclaiming his faith on live television may have been one of the reasons the show was taken off the air prematurely, but again, a window was shut and it opened a door. Just as soon as he finished that, he went and made ?Gospel Road,? the film about the life of Christ, and as far as a life?s work, I know that he would consider that one of his greatest, and I do too, and any Johnny Cash scholar probably would, you know? It?s a unique work, it?s beautiful, there?s nothing else like it out there. It?s everything from comic in nature to touching and joyous.

FILMED IN ISRAEL, ?THE GOSPEL ROAD? SHOWS THE EFFECT THAT JESUS HAD ON THOSE AROUND HIM. IT?S A SERIES OF SCENES WITH CASH?S MUSIC AND THOUGHTS AS THE SOUNDTRACK.

HERE?S A SONG CASH WROTE FOR ?THE GOSPEL ROAD.?

Music: I See Men As Trees Walking (2:40)

JOHNNY CASH PERFORMED ?I SEE MEN AS TREES WALKING? FROM THE FILM ?THE GOSPEL ROAD.?

SEVERAL SONGWRITERS WERE RECRUITED TO WORK ON THE SOUNDTRACK TO ?THE GOSPEL ROAD.?

CASH HEARD LARRY GATLIN SING IN CHURCH ONE SUNDAY MORNING, AND THE NEXT DAY GATLIN WAS SITTING WITH HIM, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON AND OTHERS WATCHING THE FILM.

Larry Gatlin: they just, they showed the film, the movie on the wall. And we?d look, and we?d write notes, what do you feel, what?s going on in your heart and your soul and your spirit right now as you see this particular scene? So that?s just kind of how we did it. And we?d bring him in the next day and say, hey, this is what we did or go to lunch and bring him back. So it was about a 2- or 3-week process. I think they wound up using Help Me and they used, what else did I write for ? ?Have a little bread, Simon. Give a little wine to James, my brother. Go ahead and eat, boys, and love one another.? It was kind of the Last Supper scene that, and that is normally a very solemn, the great paintings, the great art, the Michelangelo, The Last Supper, it?s kind of depicted as a sad and mounfu ? I?ll tell you what, I think Jesus loved his boys. And I think they had fun. And I think they laughed and giggled and told stories and enjoyed each other?s company. And I really believe if I knew I had one night to spend, I?se gonna get all my buds, my golfing buddies and my brothers and the band, but we wouldn?t sit around and mope, I think we would have a good time, so tried to write that song in a little more of the spirit that I felt it, and John loved it, and I?m very honored that he used it in his movie.

ONE OF GATLIN?S CONTRIBUTIONS TO ?THE GOSPEL ROAD? WAS THE SONG ?HELP ME.?

Music: Help Me (3:25)

?HELP ME? FROM THE SOUNDTRACK TO ?THE GOSPEL ROAD.?

THE GOSPEL ROAD? DIDN?T GET MUCH ATTENTION OUTSIDE OF CHRISTIAN CIRCLES, WHICH IS WHERE CASH WAS SPENDING A LOT OF HIS TIME. IN A MINUTE, WE?LL HEAR ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH BILLY GRAHAM, HIS BOOK ABOUT THE APOSTLE PAUL, AND A LOT MORE MUSIC.

I?M RODNEY CROWELL, AND YOU?RE LISTENING TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.?

Break 2 with music bed (1:00)

WELCOME BACK TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.? I?M RODNEY CROWELL.

SINGER AND SONGWRITER JACK WESLEY ROUTH MOVED TO NASHVILLE IN THE EARLY 1970?S TO MEET JOHNNY CASH. HE ENDED UP WRITING, WORKING AND LIVING WITH THE CASH FAMILY FOR MANY YEARS.

JR: At that time, John Carter was really a young boy, and he was taking the time to be a father, taking him to school, picking him up, and spending a lot of time with his son. It was a real inspiration to see that, as in the past he never really had much time to be a father to the girls, you know, cause he was gone all the time. But he continued to work, and he was doing an occasional movie here and there, and a tv special and going on the road and playing some records. He didn?t have a lot of hits during that time, but he was spending a lot of time with the family, so that was going on a lot.

CASH RECORDED PLENTY SONGS IN HIS STUDIO IN HENDERSONVILLE, TENNESSEE. THIS ONE FROM 1974 WAS NEVER RELEASED, AND THE BACKGROUND SINGER SOUNDS A LOT LIKE WAYLON JENNINGS.

Music: My Ship Will Sail (2:47)

?MY SHIP WILL SAIL? PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

DAVE URBANSKI WROTE A BOOK ABOUT CASH?S SPIRITUAL LIFE.

DU: Another thing he did besides making ?The Gospel Road? and going to the Evangel Temple was doing the Billy Graham Crusades. That?s another sort of stepping out publicly. You can?t get much more definitive than that, like ?okay, I?m playing my songs on the Billy Graham Crusade, this is who I am.?

CASH TOLD HIS FRIEND, REVEREND JACK SHAW, HOW THE CONNECTION WITH BILLY GRAHAM BEGAN.

Rev. Jack Shaw: I don?t know if you know how they met, but Franklin was a little bit of a rebel by his own admission, and his dad, Billy, kept asking God for a way to get to Franklin, that he should connect with him. And Franklin was talking about this song that he heard on the radio, singing parts of it, over and over, and it was Johnny Cash?s Boy Named Sue. And he thought, well if I could meet Johnny Cash, maybe Franklin would learn to like me if I connect. And I think through a doctor friend, somehow, Billy called, he was given the phone number, and he called the house.

JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: My father and Billy, as my mother and Ruth also, were tender and dear friends that both stood for the same thing but were there for each other for support and friendship throughout their lives. My mother ad Ruth corresponded regularly from the 1970s on 'til my mother's passing when Ruth had a surgery and was in very bad shape in the 1980s, she woke up with my mother at her side praying on her knees. My father and Billy, there are probably 100 letters back and forth between them that I have seen with Billy showing his support to my father through his struggles, through his addictions, through his treatment center visits and Billy's shown his friendship to my dad in my dad's times of elation and when my dad was at career heights and likewise. I also know that my father, that each letter that is there from Billy is a representation of either one that my father had sent to Billy or there was one in response to the letter. So they were in direct communication always. It was more than just an 'on the podium' friendship or even a friendship based solely on Christian Evangelism. It was a friendship based on tender relationship of kindred spirits.

REVEREND BILLY GRAHAM EVEN APPEARED ON A CASH SONG.

Music: The Preacher Said ?Jesus Said? (3:38)

JOHNNY CASH AND THE REVEREND BILLY GRAHAM PERFORMED ?THE PREACHER SAID ?JESUS SAID??.

YOU?RE LISTENING TO ?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE.? I?M RODNEY CROWELL.

JOHNNY AND JUNE CARTER CASH WERE AVID STUDENTS OF THE BIBLE, AND BOTH EARNED DEGREES FROM CORRESPONDANCE COURSES THEY TOOK AT THE CHRISTIAN INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COLLEGE IN THE 1970?S. CASH EVEN BECAME AN ORDAINED MINISTER THROUGH HIS STUDIES AT THE COLLEGE.

JOHN CARTER CASH.

JCC: My father, a large portion of his studies were on the life of the Apostle Paul, and that lead directly, later in life, to write the book ?Man in White?, which is the only novel my dad published, about the Apostle Paul?s conversion.

CASH WORKED ON HIS BOOK ?MAN IN WHITE? OFF AND ON FOR MANY YEARS. HE FINALLY RELEASED IT IN 1986 AFTER RECOVERING FROM ANOTHER RELAPSE INTO DRUGS.

CASH?S SON, JOHN CARTER.

JCC: I believe he was inspired by the fact that Paul had such a dark side in his life, and that he had turned to face the light, and in doing so had gained new sight, new vision. And I believe that the first relationship my dad had with Paul was because he saw how Paul had fallen so short in life, but still gained such strength and inspiration from God. And yes, I believe that his discipleship to the world was inspired by the struggles that Paul went through. And there are many similarities between them, Paul writes about the thorn in his flesh, my father for the last 10 years of his life had chronic pain. He had a broken jaw that didn?t heal right. He had a neurological disorder that was never completely understood by the doctors, and so my father had these thorns in his flesh that he learned to live with and accept. And though Paul prayed for them to be removed, he still accepted them with as much grace as he could as a human being, and I think he gained that inspiration through the understanding of, my father?s understanding of who he believed Paul to be.

Music: How Great Thou Art (5:17)

A PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED RECORDING OF ?HOW GREAT THOU ART? PERFORMED BY JOHNNY CASH.

Music (under): Oh Come, Angel Band

THE FINAL WORD GOES TO CASH?S LONG-TIME FRIEND AND BAND MEMBER, MARTY STUART.

Marty Stuart: Johnny Cash was a giving person. He took a lot, but he gave more. But he never advertised it. That?s like receiving an award for being humble and then thanking everybody for it. He was real quiet about it. I saw a letter not too long ago, in which there was a guy that used to come out and see the concerts around Minneapolis. He had a bad physical condition. And I saw a letter where John had written him and said, ?I want to pay for your hospital bills for the next six months? or whatever. And he signed it by saying, ?It?ll hurt my feelings if you refuse this, because you have to understand that my part of this equation is, my part of this deal is that to those to whom much is given, much is required. And you?re helping me fulfill my destiny. Love, Johnny Cash.? I think that says it all.

?JOHNNY CASH: AMAZING GRACE? WAS PRODUCED BY JOYRIDE MEDIA, PAUL CHUFFO AND JOSHUA JACKSON ARE THE PRODUCERS.

OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER IS JOHN VERNILE.

ALL SONGS ON THIS PROGRAM CAN BE FOUND ON THE COLUMBIA LEGACY CD ?CASH: ULTIMATE GOSPEL.?

SPECIAL THANKS GO TO JEFF JONES, ADAM BLOCK, JOHN JACKSON, TOM CORDING, STEVE BERKOWITZ, ERIC MOLK, SHANNON MUELLER, ANDY CAHN, NADINE NASSAR, JOHN CARTER CASH, JACK ROUTH AND DAVE URBANSKI.

I?M RODNEY CROWELL, AND THANKS FOR LISTENING.

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