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 August 5th, 2008... "Outlaw" music fans... 
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Johnny Cash documentary puts 'old golden throat' in a golden spotlight, no word of drugs

--Not sure how this is possible since he was famous for snorting mounds of cocaine--STTR.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A 40-year-old documentary about Johnny Cash to air on the Public Broadcasting Service shows him in concert and in casual settings. But unlike the 2005 movie "Walk the Line," there's no mention of his well-documented substance abuse.
The documentary "Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music" is expected to air Tuesday as part of the 21st season of PBS' Emmy-winning P.O.V. series.
The documentary was made over several months in 1968 and 1969 when Cash was at the peak of his popularity. He's shown on stage and off: hunting, playfully holding a crow; coaxing his father to sing; signing autographs; posing for photos; and listening attentively to an aspiring singer.
Of course, concert footage shows him opening his show with his famous "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
He sings "Ring of Fire," "Great Speckled Bird," "Folsom Prison Blues, "Orange Blossom Special" and, with wife June Carter, "Jackson."
Additionally, Cash and a young Bob Dylan are shown in a studio recording a duet, "One Too Many Mornings."
Director Robert Elfstrom says his portrayal differs from what moviegoers saw in "Walk the Line" starring Joaquin Phoenix for a reason.
"I didn't want to cloud the purity of the story," Elfstrom said in a telephone interview, referring to Cash's drug problems. "I felt it was irrelevant to his art, but the powers that be wanted it in there. I fought it hard, and it was a good decision."
The documentary aired originally on public TV shortly after it was made, was released briefly in theaters, was shown in the United Kingdom and aired last year on the Ovation channel.
Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the P.O.V series, said PBS is airing the 40-year-old show because "Johnny Cash has become an almost mythic figure, and Bob Elfstrom's film captures him as a three-dimensional, complex person at a pivotal point in his life and career."
Elfstrom said he came to regard Cash as authentic.
"Many performers are just performers and you feel a credibility gap," he said. "With John, he was not capable of playing anybody but who he was: A hard-working kid from Dyess, Ark. He was about soul, and he identified with people who struggled."
Cash is shown in concert at the old Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville and at Wounded Knee in South Dakota before Indians in their traditional dress.
June Carter Cash, in remarks to the prisoners, calls her husband "old golden throat."
John Rumble, senior historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in an interview that Cash "had a unique half-speaking, half-singing style. Above everything, he had one of the most memorable voices in all of American musical history. It had the aura of authority but could be tender.
Cash died in 2003, just four months after his wife.
Elfstrom says the documentary captures a special time in the artist's life.
"There are not many documentaries on John, and this was perhaps one of the first and caught him at a point where he had some real peace of mind," Elfstrom said. "He was with June, and whatever bad habits he had he'd put behind him. His career and voice were at the top."
"Many performers are just performers and you feel a credibility gap," he said. "With John, he was not capable of playing anybody but who he was: A hard-working kid from Dyess, Ark. He was about soul, and he identified with people who struggled."
Cash is shown in concert at the old Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville and at Wounded Knee in South Dakota before Indians in their traditional dress.
June Carter Cash, in remarks to the prisoners, calls her husband "old golden throat."
John Rumble, senior historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in an interview that Cash "had a unique half-speaking, half-singing style. Above everything, he had one of the most memorable voices in all of American musical history. It had the aura of authority but could be tender.
Cash died in 2003, just four months after his wife.
Elfstrom says the documentary captures a special time in the artist's life.
"There are not many documentaries on John, and this was perhaps one of the first and caught him at a point where he had some real peace of mind," Elfstrom said. "He was with June, and whatever bad habits he had he'd put behind him. His career and voice were at the top."

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Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:48 am
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Sometime to Return wrote:
Johnny Cash documentary puts 'old golden throat' in a golden spotlight, no word of drugs

--Not sure how this is possible since he was famous for snorting mounds of cocaine--STTR.


Yep, the question does arise. You can say that by taking drugs out of the picture, the filmmaker may be trying to make his life look rosy and idyllic, in a way, distort it, but on the other hand, Johnny Cash wasn't famous for just snorting cocaine...we all know there was more to his life than just drugs...his family, his music, etc.

I think that by taking drugs out of the picture, the filmmaker is trying to say that drugs weren't as important to him at this time. So, other points of view and aspects of his life are instead put under the spotlight and shown.

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Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:58 pm
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I'm assuming of course, as is the author of this article, that either Johnny Cash wasn't snorting as much cocaine by then, or that his popularity and talents went far beyond having a substance abuse problem. I'm also assuming judging by Elfstrom wanting to stick to the "purity" of his story that Elfstrom wants to highlight who he thought Johnny Cash was. Also, the "powers that be" want to focus on his substance abuse because it adds good "entertainment value," not just because it's important to focus on, IMO.

What say you who know Johnny's Cash's life story better than I?

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Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:12 pm
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sayeeda wrote:
I'm assuming of course, as is the author of this article, that either Johnny Cash wasn't snorting as much cocaine by then, or that his popularity and talents went far beyond having a substance abuse problem. I'm also assuming judging by Elfstrom wanting to stick to the "purity" of his story that Elfstrom wants to highlight who he thought Johnny Cash was. Also, the "powers that be" want to focus on his substance abuse because it adds good "entertainment value," not just because it's important to focus on, IMO.

What say you who know Johnny's Cash's life story better than I?


I personally don't think the substance abuse is what matters. Millions of people are/have done drugs, and for the vast majority of them, no one really cares. The only reason people know Johnny Cash did drugs is because he was famous for his music. His music is what matters, and if the drugs weren't effecting his performance at the time, then they aren't really relevant to the documentary. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves what's important. The drugs didn't end up destroying Johnny Cash, and thankfully he went on to live a fairly long life making wonderful music throughout it. I think the only time fans should concern themselves with the matter is in the even that the drugs have a serious detrimental impact on the music (none greater than the impact of an overdose). Beyond that, it really isn't our business.

Phil


Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:34 pm
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Well put. As such, the drug factor was taken out entirely of the story. This should be an interesting documentary to watch. I just might tune in.

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Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:41 pm
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