Yes, of course, the title to this album would nowadays be denounced as misogynist or sexist.
“… and His Woman”
Perhaps, even in 1973 the title was a little old fashioned, but then again Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were a little old fashioned.
Did June Carter Cash care?
I don't know but I do know that they don’t make female singers like her anymore.
She may have been a little old fashioned but that doesn’t mean she was a wallflower.
As a companion and a musical collaborator June Carter was able to hold her own against Johnny Cash.
Her position in country music was assured and there has been precious little coming to replace her. The wounded female singer-songwriters in country are everywhere as are the bombastic pop country singers who have nothing to say or tell.
June Carter straddled both those styles and turned them around. Her voice was big, bombastic and forceful but she had something to say and tell about life and the human condition.
She is up front and brassy and a perfect companion to Johnny Cash who can, often, be contemplative or laid back.
The comparator for this album would be the 1967 collaboration between Johnny and his (then) new wife June Carter, “Carryin’ On” which is an ode to fresh love and the excitement of a relationship in its infancy.
By 1973 things with Johnny and June had changed, but, not for the worse. They had progressed. They had a family together (they had a son born in 1970). June Carter was still a forceful musical voice and Johnny still had demons but the music is laid back, comfortable and calming. This may reflect the security of their familial situation but it also reflects the emerging (1973) amalgamation of country rock and soft rock sounds which were aimed at people who wanted to recline and forget about the world.
That’s not to say this is The Eagles or something. It is still a Johnny Cash album (Johnny's vocal is lead on most of the songs) and there are ragged edges which gives the album an off the cuff conversational sound, as if you were catching up with an Aunt or an Uncle over a coffee, where they pass on advice (and wisdom) about life, love, hopes, dreams and things spiritual.
Johnny writes a couple of tunes, has some written for him and picks a few covers. But, as always, Johnny (and June) make a song their own. They don’t always usurp the original or more well-known version but they do make their version sit alongside the original so much so you can’t tell (and don't care) who wrote it. And that, as I repeat so often, is what a good interpreter of songs does.
This was the final album from long time Cash producer Don Law.
Tracks (best in italics)
- The Color of Love – (Billy Edd Wheeler) – Country folk singer songwriter Wheeler was a favourite of John and June’s having written "Jackson" which was recorded by them in 1967 and went to #2 (Country). Quite a witty song with the same to and fro between Johnny and June as "Jackson". In fact, thematically, the song is a kind of sequel to "Jackson".
- Saturday Night in Hickman County – (Johnny Cash) – not perfectly realised but undeniably intriguing with sharp observations and lyrics of small town country America. Sung solo by Johnny..
- Allegheny – (Chris Gantry) – Country singer Chris Gantry released this on his "Motor Mouth" album from 1970 and recorded this on the Johnny Cash TV Show in 1971. June is perfectly old school country.
- Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs – (Margaret Ann Rich) – written by Charlie Rich’s wife, he had a #41 country hit with this in 1969 and the song has since become often identified as a Charlie Rich statement of faith (well Greil Marcus in his book “Mystery Train” identifies it as one). This version is not close to Rich's version but it is still quite good. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life's_Little_Ups_and_Downs
- Matthew 24 (Is Knocking at the Door) – (Johnny Cash) – I always bang on about the strife of the early 70s in the US (civil unrest, increase in pollution, widespread drugs, urban decay, the Vietnam war, the ongoing Cold War) and how it effects music. Well, this is Johnny's response to the times. Matthew 24 is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. In it Jesus foretells the doom of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple and the great calamities that will precede his Second Coming.
- The City of New Orleans – (Steve Goodman) – Folkie Goodman’s evocative tune (first released by him in 1971) was a hit for Arlo Guthrie in1972 (#18). A beautiful version of a beautiful song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_New_Orleans_(song)
- Tony – (D. C. Powers) – I have little knowledge of D.C Powers but this could have been written by Cash because it is SO in his style. This is a contemporary cowboy song.
- The Pine Tree – (Billy Edd Wheeler) – another original by Billy Edd Wheeler. Reminiscent of Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter"
- We're for Love – (Reba Hancock, M. S. Tubb) – Reba Cash Hancock was Johnny's younger sister. I’m not sure who M. S. Tubb is (though they are probably a relation of family friend and country singer Ernest Tubb). Together they wrote a couple of tunes recorded by Johnny. Reba, also, produced, "Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus” (1973) which Johnny narrated and June Carter appeared in. This is a little goofy like a mid 60s Elvis movie tune (in fact in bears just a smidge (in structure) of "Who Needs Money" from Clambake (1967)).
- Godshine – (D. C. Powers) – There is no denying John and June's faith. This is a catchy country song rather than a Christian song though the subject is Jesus. Very catchy.
A forgotten and greatly undervalued album … I'm keeping it.
1973 Allegheny #69 Country
1973 #32 Country
The whole album
The Color of Love
Saturday Night in Hickman County
clip (Johnny solo)
The City of New Orleans
clip (Johnny solo)
mp 3 attached
- Personnel: Johnny Cash – vocals, guitar / June Carter Cash – vocals / Bob Wootton, Carl Perkins, David Jones – guitar / Marshall Grant – bass / WS Holland – drums / Bill Walker, Jerry Whitehurst – piano, keyboards.