This Johnny Cash article was written by Jorden Pinchen, a GIGsoup contributor
After a turbulent, drug fuelled 60s Johnny Cash was finally out of the darkness and in 1972 the Family Christmas album reflected this greatly. Cash, now happily married with his renewed faith and a new son there wasn’t a better time for a family Christmas album.
As the title implies, The Johnny Cash Family Christmas album is all about family. Cash teams up with wife June Carter Cash and other dear friends such as Carl Perkins, The Statler brothers and the Carter Family. The album makes you feel like your there with them all just sitting in the living room with Johnny’s crew trading Christmas stories and songs.
The songs include some classic christmas covers – Silent Night which is touchingly sweet with the whole family joining in and the Jingle Bells rendition is lighthearted and fun with both tracks making you feel included in their celebrations. Although there do seem to be a lot of throwaways on the album there are some real highlights with Johnny’s wife June being absolutely delightful. June and mother Maybelle give a hilarious introduction to the banjo led “Christmas times a comin” which has a real homespun charm to it. She and Johnny also share a duet on “Christmas with you” and is definitely one of the finer moments.
The best part of the album however is the dialogue in between each song. The stories of drunk uncles and living in the rural south through the depression, their faith and what they believe to be the real meaning of Christmas really makes you feel the Christmas spirt and how family is what makes it special. If you imagine them all sitting in Johnny’s luxurious home reminiscing over what must of seemed to them a different era and how much they appreciated such simple things such as a Hatchet! It really shows just how far they had come.
Unfortunately this period of calm for Johnny was short lived and by the end of the decade he had relapsed into some destructive habits. Although this is not a perfect album it represents so much more and listening to them all enjoying themselves these years of peace are truly reflected.
If you are looking for the gritty complex humour of traditional Cash you wont find it in this album however you will find a few good tracks and Christmas joy.