Thursday, June 13, 2013
Johnny Cash Goes Postal - Without June
by Pa Rock
The Untied States Postal Service issued a new “forever” stamp on June 5th commemorating country music legend Johnny Cash. It was unveiled in front of a host of country stars at the old Ryman Theatre in Nashville, the place where the Grand Ole Opry originated for decades. The stamp features a 1963 black-and-white photo of Cash set on a black background. For those few of us who still use the U.S. Postal Service, the stamp will definitely add a touch of class to those monthly bills.
While I value the music of Johnny Cash as much as the next guy – and more than many - I found it odd that “the man in black” was honored by the Postal Service as a single when he was so well known for his musical collaborations and performances with his second wife, June Carter Cash.
June Carter was entertaining American audiences with her parents and sisters (as the Carter Family) when she was only a child – at a time Johnny Cash was still picking cotton in Arkansas. She was a star of the Grand Ole Opry years before Johnny ever found his way out of the Nashville bus terminal.
June was the consummate entertainer – a fiddle-playing singer, comedienne, and actress - who could hold a show together under the worst of circumstances. Some of those difficult performances were highlighted in the 2005 film, Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as the young entertainers and lovers. Another real life incident of June stepping in to save the show is chronicled in this blog when I described a live show that I saw in Springfield, Missouri, in the 1960’s where June had to step in and hold a show together after bad weather pre-empted an appearance by Johnny. That piece ran on November 12, 2007, when the Ramble was just a few days old.
Did Johnny Cash earn the right to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp? Damned right, he did – but so did the irrepressible June Carter Cash. She was definitely the woman behind the man, the one who sobered him up and pushed him to the heights of country music. Since the Postal Service didn’t see fit to put her on a stamp with Johnny, they need to accord June Carter Cash the honor of being placed on her own stamp.
And after that oversight is corrected, it would not be out of place to produce a stamp honoring the Carter family as well. They truly were an American musical institution.