AT THE MOVIES
John Carter Cash: How Johnny Walked the Line
By Stephen Hubbard and Scott Ross
The 700 Club
Hello, I’m Johnny Cash…
Scott Ross [reporting]: But is Joaquin Phoenix really the “Man in Black”? Who better to judge than June and Johnny’s only son… John Carter Cash.
John Carter Cash: I don’t think anyone in the world could play my father, look just like him, act just like him, and make you believe he’s Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix gets as close as anybody I think ever could.
Scott [reporting]: Nashville native Reese Witherspoon plays John Carter Cash’s mother June.
John: I was a little bit nervous. Is it gonna work for Joaquin to sing and for Reese to sing? It’s wonderful. They take it on, their whole spirit, their whole attitude. It’s a snapshot of who my parents were in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The point of the movie is my parents’ love. That’s the strongest point that it makes. And if that’s all it says, my parents would be happy.
Scott: They really did have a love affair, didn’t they?
John: He told me after my mother passed away, “Your mother and I were more in love when she passed away than we ever have been.” That love grew in great leaps and bounds. They were real. My parents were real people. They didn’t put on airs or false faces. They were what they were.
Scott [reporting]: When your dad is the “Man in Black” and your mom comes from the family that practically invented country music, life can be anything but normal.
John: When I was about three years old, my parents put me onstage. My dad would introduce me at the end of “A Boy Named Sue,” and I would come out and take a bow. I felt the rush of the crowd. I think at that point I began to realize life is different because of the way people are looking at me.
Scott: Did you go through the rebellious years like a lot of kids who are raised around fame?
John: I think most of my life I have spent trying to gain normalcy, whatever that may be. Addiction, loss, trouble. It runs in my family’s blood. It runs in my blood. [There is a] loss of identity. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing here? What’s the purpose? So it took a long time for me to find my direction and feel like I’d set my feet correct.
I was introduced to the church through my parents but I had to struggle and find it on my own. In the end I learned much of my faith and found much of my strength through watching my father’s and mother’s journeys.
He gave his heart to God early in his life, and you know how it is. Christ carries us through our darkest times. It’s His grace by which we are healed. That’s the salvation that my father had through all the struggle and pain.
No matter through that pain, no matter through any addiction or struggle the end result was light and love, and that’s where they were when they left this world. They never lost their reach for the Spirit. They always came back to it.
My mother would always say -- and one of her records is titled as such -- Press On… continue on.
Scott [reporting]: Even after June’s passing, Johnny Cash continued to “press on.”
John: He was devastated, but my father didn’t stop. That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned from him. In the face of pain, in the face of struggle, continue on. Do not stop. Persistence.
Scott: He went to work right away.
John: He went to work. He was in the studio four days after my mother’s funeral.
Scott: He did his final work here, eh?
John: Yes he did. The last time he recorded anything was in this room we’re standing in right now.
Scott [reporting]: John Carter also produced his mother’s last GRAMMY-winning recordings at Cash Cabin. This month the final piece of June’s recording legacy is available for the first time. Her proudest accomplishments live on through the Carter-Cash clan.
Scott: There are how many grandchildren?
John: I have two and one on the way. Myself and my sisters -- we’re trying to populate the world with Cash descendents (laughs).
Scott: And you've done a good job so far.
John: I think my father would say that hopefully his greatest legacy will be his faith in God, his joy for family, and his faith in spirit continually.
Want more? Read Scott's interview with Johnny Cash.
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