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Through The  eyeroll.gif (2357 bytes) Eyes Of A Fan

The Final Goodbye To Johnny Cash  

Johnny Cash 
Tribute And Memorial 
At The Ryman Auditorium 
November 10, 2003  

Ryman To Host Johnny Cash Tribute

Rosanne Cash - Singing I Still  Miss Someone 

A musical tribute to the late Johnny Cash is slated to take place Nov. 10 at the historic Ryman Auditorium with some of the biggest names in the industry singing his songs.

Cash's manager, Lou Robin, who spent 34 years traveling all over the world with the country music icon, said he and the family wanted to do something for the fans who were unable to either watch or attend the Sept. 15 funeral service, which was held at the First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.

Cash, who was awarded 12 Grammy awards during his 42-year music career, died Sept. 12 from complications related to diabetes. He was 71.

“[The family] just wanted to … give the public … closure to their feelings about John’s death,” Robin said. “They thought maybe this would be an opportunity for a lot of different entertainers to come and voice their feelings and perform and entertain.”

Expected to perform at the Cash Memorial Concert are his daughter, Rosanne, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow,
Hank Williams Jr., Jack Clement, Steve Earle and Larry Gatlin. Musicians not yet confirmed are Bob Dylan, Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

Robin said while the event could have been held in a number of other venues, the Ryman seemed like the perfect fit.

“It has a lot of ambiance and a lot of memories for everyone,” Robin said, adding plans to televise the event, possibly worldwide, are still in the works.

“I get calls from all over the world,” Robin said. “Everybody is just shocked and saddened by what transpired.”

Robin said the uniqueness of the artist who became known as “The Man in Black” was that he related to people and people related to him.

“He was an incredible human being, a very bright person and very intuitive — not only in his personal life — but in his musical life,” Robin said.

“He really knew how to transmit his thoughts on many subjects to people who shared those thoughts.”

Cash, who was born in
Kingsland, Ark., in 1932, learned to play guitar while serving in the Air Force. He began his career in Memphis with “Hey Porter”, recorded for Sun Records. In 1956, he recorded “Folsom Prison Blues”.

Cash often attributed the turnaround in his life to his second wife, June Carter Cash, a sibling of country music’s famous Carter family. She preceded her husband in death and was memorialized at the same
Hendersonville church in May.

Cash recorded more than 1,500 songs that can be found on about 500 albums, counting only American and European releases.

He was the youngest person ever inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame and the only performer ever selected for both the Country and Rock Music Hall of Fame, until 1998, when Elvis Presley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


   CMT will televise the memorial celebration for Johnny Cash on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Taping of the concert, titled the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute, will take place on Nov. 10 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

"What a privilege for CMT to telecast the Johnny Cash tribute," said Brian Philips, senior vice president/general manager, CMT. "This will be a communal celebration of a rich and brilliant life, connecting the intimate Ryman gathering with the world of music fans who love and respect Johnny Cash."

A number of artists have already confirmed their participation in honoring Cash, who died Sept. 12 in Nashville of complications due to diabetes. He was 71. Some of these artists took part in his funeral service, held Sept. 15 in Hendersonville, Tenn. The funeral was private, open only to family, friends and music industry co-workers and associates. Cash's longtime manager, Lou Robin, said one of the reasons the Cash family wanted the memorial broadcast on TV was to allow fans worldwide to take part in paying tribute to Cash.

John Mellencamp, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Kid Rock

Artists already lined up to perform include the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Larry Gatlin, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, George Jones, John Mellencamp, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Jack Clement, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam, Jimmy Tittle and Johnny Western. Other artists may be
added. Also included will be pre-taped tributes to Cash from other entertainers, including Whoopi Goldberg. DreamWorks Nashville chief executive James Stroud will act as musical director.

Although tickets to the memorial are free, room is limited because the Ryman seats less than 2,400 people. Potential attendees are required to send their name, address and daytime telephone number on a 3½-by-5 inch card or paper to: Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute, P.O. Box 20003, Nashville, Tenn., 37202. All entries must be received by Oct. 26. Those receiving tickets will be notified by phone by Oct. 31. Each winner will receive two reserved seat tickets.

Following the airing of the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute, CMT will broadcast CMT Inside Fame: Johnny Cash, an in-depth look at the life and career of Cash.

Tribute Program & Ticket 

Song List Tribute Cash

 #1 Fisk Jubilee Singers - Ain't No Grave
#2 Roseanne Cash - I Still Miss Someone  
#3 Tommy Cash, speaking about his brother
#4 Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, George Jones - Big River
 #5 Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt - I Walk the Line
#6 Marshall Grant, talking about learning to play the bass
#7 John Mellencamp - Hey Porter
#8 Hank Williams Jr - Ring of Fire
#9 Brooks & Dunn and Charlene Carter - Jackson
#10 Brooks and Dunn - Ghost Riders in the Sky
#11 Rodney Crowell - Do You Understand Your Man (original)
#12 Kid Rock - What is Truth
#13 Kid Rock - Rock and Roll with You
#14 Cowboy Jack Clement - Guess Things Happen that Way
#15 Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives - Rock Island Line
#16 Sheryl Crow - Hurt
 #17 George Jones - Give my Love to Rose
#18 Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., Kris Kristofferson and George Jones - Highwayman
#19 Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews via tape - Long Black Veil
20.) Al Gore - talking about the Man in Black and reading lyrics to the song
#21 Johnny Western - theme from Johnny Yuma
#22 Roseanne Cash - Tennessee Flattop Box
#23 Steve Earle - Folson Prisom Blues
#24 Kid Rock and Hank Jr. - There Ain't No Good Chain Gang
#25 Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow - If I were a Carpenter
#26 Willie Nelson - Were you There
#27 Larry Gatlin & Laura Cash - No Longer in the Rough
#28 Larry Gatlin (original) - Man Can't Live with a Broken Heart Too Long
#29 Kris Kristofferson - Sunday Mornin Coming Down
#30 Jimmy Tittle & Sheryl Crow  See you Again
#31 Randy Scruggs - (original) - Passin Through
#32 Finale - Carter Cash Family - We'll Meet Again

Brooks & Dunn, Carlene Crater, Travis Tritt, Sheryl Crow Steve Earl 


In the end, it was the simple eloquence of the pictures that overwhelmed me. The wonderful songs that were sung and the great stories that were told at the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute concert in Nashville brought enough tears and laughter, God knows.

There was so much pent-up emotion in that audience, and so much grief that had been held back and dammed up, and so much would-be joy that had been repressed, that it all came spilling out in what seemed at times like an old-fashioned tent revival. I hadn't seen so many standing ovations since the Beatles at Shea Stadium.

Johnny Cash's Historic Guitar 

There were so many moments that weren't anticipated. The taciturn Marshall Grant (of Cash's original Tennessee Two band), whom no one expected to say much, almost broke down after only a few words but then seemed to draw strength from the audience's spontaneous support and went on to not only find his voice but to fluently go on to talk for more than 10 fascinating minutes -- without any prepared notes -- until you almost wondered if he would ever stop. But those were fabulous moments for the ages. That was rock 'n' roll, you know -- he was present at the creation, after all. And this was the most eloquent that he has ever been in talking about it.

At the rehearsals that afternoon before the concert, Rosanne Cash became overcome with emotion and couldn't finish her father's song "I Still Miss Someone." It was such a poignant moment that everyone in the auditorium hushed and fell into a reverent silence. As the most eloquent speaker -- and artist -- of the Cash Carter clan, Rosanne has had to be the public spokesperson at four Carter Cash funerals this year: those of her stepmother June Carter, her father Johnny Cash, her aunt Louise and her stepsister Rosey Carter Nix Adams. She has been the strongest person at each function, and at the concert, she delivered powerful renditions of "I Still Miss Someone" and "
Tennessee Flat Top Box."

The biggest realization of the night might have been the stark fact that no one yet comprehends just what country music lost with the passing of Johnny and June. I know one thing: it's a much, much bigger loss than anyone had imagined.

But, about those pictures...

The narrow confines of the Ryman's stage made set design for this concert a nightmare. The venerable old auditorium was built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle way back in 1892, and that stage was obviously constructed without the possibility that it would be used someday for music concerts and TV shows. The cramped dimensions of the stage dictate that only the most basic set décor and staging can be used. So, the simplicity of the Ryman itself forced simplicity of set design -- which turned out to work incredibly well. For the Cash show, fabric scrims were suspended above the stage and black-and-white photographs were projected onto them. The result became starkly effective, even ethereal; and almost ghostly at times.

Looking at Cash roam through the years in these, along with his beloved June Carter Cash, was a travelogue like no other.

Seeing that stern, all-knowing visage floating above Cash's former band mates Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson was eerily reminiscent of the group the Highwaymen's image, in those salad days when Willie, Waylon, Johnny and Kris defied Nashville's shunning of them as solo artists. They went on the road as a group to remind country audiences of what they had been missing.

But the family montage that unfolded was at once emotionally wrenching and gratifying. As the simple snapshots unfolded, we saw the straightforward drama of a family -- a family marrying and having children, picnicking, walking beside the sea, just having fun. "It's honoring the songs and his great body of work as well as who he was as a human being," Rosanne Cash said of the montage. "It's very human. There's a lot of pictures of him with his children and grandchildren. We kept it that way so people saw what he was as a private man, as a father, as a grandfather. He would have appreciated that -- for people to get to see the whole spectrum."

Annie Leibovitz's photograph of the Cash and Carter clan gathered at the Carter Fold in Hiltons, Va., last year ended the photo montage and was such a perfect and fitting send-off to Johnny and to his beloved June and to all their flock and to that whole era. ... It could have been any American family come together for a group photo, but for the fact that this one family happened to be especially special on the music side of things. I feel gratified and grateful to have been allowed to share such a special evening.

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Revised: September 03, 2007


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