How do you feel about ostriches knowing that one almost killed your father?
Did you find Walk Hard, The Dewey Cox Story entertaining?
Yes. My dad would have laughed also. I was mad when I heard about it, and then I saw it, and I thought it was great.
What’s the best advice your father gave you?
The best advice my father gave me was not something he said. Or instructed. It was the way he lived his life. Towards the end of his life, my father was struggling and in pain, going blind, and sickness was taking over his body. Still he endured, and not only that, he excelled. And created some of the most beautiful recorded material he ever did for the American Recordings series.
What about Rick Rubin drew your dad towards working with him in the latter part of his career, and what was your initial reaction to the collaboration?
I knew Rick Rubin from specifically the Cult’s Electric album. I appreciated his genius. Rick gave my father the opportunity to follow his heart and make the records he always wanted to make. He and my father had an agreement on the basic philosophy of the way the records would be released. They were also dear friends, and actually took communion together over the phone daily during the last part of my dad’s life. They worked well together, but any producer will tell you, you really don’t ‘produce’ Johnny Cash.
How did being the son of a very famous person impact how other people viewed you? Did you have normal friendships, relationships, etc. If you didn’t, did you realize you weren’t like the other kids, or was it explained to you?
My parents were good, down to earth people. They weren’t haughty or puffed up. Just good hearted, from very American soil. No matter where they went, they were the same. Whether with the President or the grocery store clerk. This made it a lot easier living in the shadow of their celebrity.
What were your parents favourite books and movies?
My father’s favorite book was the bible. He truly loved Russell Crowe in Gladiator. He really did. I met Russell Crowe last night and told him that. And in the latter part of his life, his favorite book was Gary Jenning’s Aztec. He also loved Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman in the World, and Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet.
Can you tell us of a quirk your father had? e.g. “He would wake up every morning and ‘first do this’” or “He liked his pancakes such and such way”.
My father liked crunchy peanut butter. Fried catfish. And deep-fried chicken skin.
Did your Father’s drug and alcohol use affect you as a child, and later on as an adult? And do you have any insight on the song ‘Walk The Line’? Any special meanings and/or messages to take from it?
Although he is very much remembered for the darkness, for the struggle, this is not what I carry within my heart. We can look back in sadness, loss, remember the failures and struggles. Or we can look back and choose to remember the light, and the beauty. My father’s struggles with addiction were part of who he was. But not all. Let the light remain.
What is your favorite song that your father wrote?
I’d have to say in general my favorite of his music is the music he recorded for the American Recordings records. I was there, and that’s where I learned to produce music working in the studio under Rick Rubin.
I had the opportunity to watch my dad write the song ‘The Man Comes Around.’ He was passionate about this song. It consumed his mind and his thoughts. I’d have to say this is my favorite.
Can you explain how an album just gets lost? And then just gets found?
My father, in 1984, was not at the top of the country charts. Columbia records was losing interest in Johnny Cash and didn’t know how to promote him. Physically, literally, this record was put on the back shelf. And going through the vault, we discovered hundreds of recordings. It was in my dad’s office, he had a big building that was his office, and there was a storage room that had a lock on the door, and it was in there.
But it was only 2 years ago that this specific recording resurfaced.
Who would be your best choice to depict your father in a biopic other than the work that Joaquin Phoenix did?
If there to be another Johnny Cash movie, the period that would make the most sense to make a film about would be the last part of his life. James Garner would be my number one choice.
Was there a song that your dad was most proud of, or seemed to favor? I love watching his Elvis impersonation.
Did you know Elvis impersonated my father also? There’s an audio recording of it, but no video.
What are peoples reaction when you introduce yourself?
Quite often, someone will see my name on a credit card and say John Cash, not Johnny? They will laugh and say I bet you get that all the time.
They may say Your family must have been fans.
If they say this, my immediate reaction is Yes my mother loved him her whole life.
And then I’ll never tell them that I’m their son.
Did you ever get called Sue at school?