Sunday, May 12, 2013

George Jones - The Johnny Cash Show (1971)

I used to look forward to Wednesday nights just to catch a bit of Johnny Cash on his show, taped at the Grand Ole Opry, as well as hear the other guests. In this segment from April 15, 1970 George Jones does a short set consisting of “White Lightnin’” with Johnny Cash, and then goes on to do a medley of his own with “She Thinks I Still Care”, “The Love Bug”, “The Race is On” and then, curiously, back to “The Love Bug” as a finish. All in 4 minutes! He is backed by a group whom Johnny refers to as “The Jones Boys”, but I’m not sure who they are. Looking it up might spoil the memory so I’ll let it be.

The Johnny Cash Show lasted barely 2 seasons. It didn’t have the commercial appeal in the big city market, and that’s a shame, as the groups and other artists featured on this show went on th influence; and in some cases already had; the bands of the 1970’s and even today when you go hear groups like Phish doing George Jones songs. And the shows were really great TV themselves.

On this typical night, Johnny featured Judy Collins and Bobby Goldsboro as his main guests along with George Jones. He performed with each artist and then, as was his habit on the show, left the stage to them. He also performed regularly with June Carter Cash doing duets and also reciting poetry. On this particular night Johnny read an anti-drug poem. This was brave stuff to do if you were trying to make it on TV in 1970, when pop was king, along with all the “special” effects that went into making most music.

I really miss the old variety shows. There was something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Anyone my age will remember Sunday nights watching Ed Sullivan with their family. It was like a ritual. And there seems to have been a different show for each night. Red Skelton, Dean Martin, the list goes on and on. It’s lucky for me that they are all preserved on You Tube.  

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