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Trivia / Johnny Cash

  • Career Resurrection: The American albums in the 1990s brought him back into popularity, even if only in an underground kind of way.
  • Creator Couple: He and June Carter stayed together until death.
  • Easter Egg: Cash's 1976 live album Strawberry Cake contains two noteworthy examples. Neither the liner notes - nor, surprisingly, many reviews or even retrospectives of Cash's career - mention that the album records the moment the show is interrupted midway through a June Carter Cash song by an IRA bomb threat, which they decided to leave on the record. A second Easter Egg on the same album is a rare performance of one of Cash's early recordings, "Another Man Done Gone" which for some reason is misidentified as "Dialogue #4" on the sleeve.
  • Fan Nickname: "The Man in Black".
  • Missing Episode/The Shelf of Album Languishment: For no apparent reason, the tracks recorded for Out Among the Stars was recorded in 1981 and 1984 and was unreleased for thirty years. It finally saw release in 2014.
    • This isn't the only example. In 1975 Cash also recorded a complete gospel album that for some reason was left unreleased until 2012. And it nearly happened again with an early-1980s gospel album that he recorded for Columbia but was cancelled when it shut down its gospel music division; the album later saw release on the small Word label in 1986.
      • There are likely reasons for both sets of songs being held. According to Cash biographer Robert Hilburn, the 1981-1984 recordings were shelved because Cash no longer wanted to promote the single "Chicken in Black" (recorded at the same sessions), leading to friction with his label. The gospel recordings from 1975 were likely shelved due to the fact Cash had only recently released a successful gospel album called Precious Memories.
  • Throw It In: The Folsom Prison show included some unexpected reactions from the audience. In particular, Cash is momentarily thrown by applause breaking out during an inappropriate moment of his dramatic "The Long Black Veil". Rather than cut the song or re-record it, this version remained on the final album and even turns up in deference to the cleaner studio version from 1964 on some greatest hits collections. (However a similar reaction to "Dark as the Dungeon", which forced Cash to stop the song and admonish the audience, resulted in it being cut from the album until a "complete show" expanded edition was released in the 2000s.)
    • According to Cash and numerous biographers, "A Boy Named Sue" was a spontaneous addition to the San Quentin show, with the band improvising the backing as Cash read the lyrics. It worked so well, it was kept and became the show's signature song, even though the plan was for the song "San Quentin" to be so.
    • Speaking of "San Quentin", Cash performed the song twice during the 1969 prison concert due to audience demand (and his producer wanting a second "take" for single release). Audience reaction to both was so strong producer Bob Johnson chose to include both performances on the album.
    • The Johnny Cash Show appeared to have a "no edit" rule, as bloopers, mistakes, even Cash coughing between lines of a song (something he actually did surprisingly often; he can be heard doing this a lot on the Folsom Prison album) were kept in, rather than the director calling cut and starting over again. A very funny example occurred when Waylon Jennings appeared in 1970 and one of his musicians messed up his vocals during a song, causing the band to stop momentarily and laugh before continuing. The boo-boo was kept intact for broadcast.
  • Verbal Tic: On many, many live recordings and TV appearances during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cash can be seen and heard coughing in the middle of songs and is not always successful in doing it off mic (he even "apologizes" to the mic for coughing into it on one recording). Some singers cough in order to clear their throats for singing, and the fact many performances from the Johnny Cash Showshow him doing this (an example being "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer") rather than a second take being recorded suggests this might be the case. Becomes far less noticeable in later years, although it made a return during his 1994 "comeback" performances at Glastonbury and elsewhere.
  • What Could Have Been: Cash recorded the Don Schlitz song "The Gambler" shortly after Kenny Rogers recorded his version. His associates thought it had big hit potential and urged him to release it as a single before Rogers did, but Cash didn't care for the song and declined, which allowed Rogers to get the hit first while Cash's version was left hidden away on the album Gone Girl.
    • In 2014, Columbia released Out Among the Stars, an album that was recorded almost in its entirely in the early 1980s but inexplicably never released. At the time of recording, Cash was in the midst of an extended dry period in terms of critical acclaim and hit records, which would pretty much result in his leaving Columbia in 1986. Critics have noted that the long-unreleased recordings could have provided Cash with a much-needed hit had they been released 30 years earlier. (Indeed, it appears Cash was lining up at least one of the songs for a single, the excellent duet with June Carter Cash titled "Baby Ride Easy" which they even performed on the 1984 Johnny Cash Christmas Special. Anyone wanting to buy that record would have to wait nearly three decades.
    • In 1963, Cash was booked to play Carnegie Hall, becoming one of the first major country acts to perform there. To mark the occasion, Columbia Records planned to record the concert for album release similar to how Harry Belafonte found huge success with his Carnegie Hall concert albums. Unfortunately, Cash was in such bad shape due to his drug intake as well as the onset of stage fright, as well as a stated intent to do few if any of his own songs, that the concert was a disaster and any plans to release a live album at that time were scrapped. It would take another 5 years before Cash got a proper live album recorded, his iconic At Folsom Prison.
    • He was nearly killed decades ago by a pet ostrich when, after becoming violent with it, the ostrich responded with the claws on its feet. The only reason he survived? His belt buckle caught the claw, preventing him from being ripped open. Why yes, this did happen during his drug abuse period.
    • Invoked by the man himself, who during the recording and release of the first American album expressed regret that he had spent the last 15-20 years doing what the label wanted and cranking out increasingly formulaic Nashville-style material rather than doing what he wanted, which is to record just himself and his guitar. Consider that he only got to do what he wanted in the last ten years of his life and imagine what he could have accomplished had he been able to spend 25 years working that way.