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The Best Performances on ‘The Johnny Cash Show’ [VIDEO]

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Do you remember the Johnny Cash Show? It has been a while since it went off the air, but it remains one of America’s best variety shows. With the legend Johnny Cash as host and an endless line up of other music royalty, the Johnny Cash Show became a revolutionary change in television history that will be remembered forever. To relive this great show, here are my top five performances. 

On air from 1969 to 1971, during very tumultuous time in America’s history. He held nothing back. Whether in his own musical performances or in speaking about the world and what was happening. He spoke candidly about drugs, the war, mistreatment of different groups, and so many other things that were seen as too controversial to be on TV at the time.

He didn’t just bring the world’s most popular artists on stage. He invited living legends, like himself. He hosted new comers to the music scene that would eventually become unforgettable phenomenons.  There was never a shortage of talent and moving music.

Sometimes, not just the sound but the words were the most memorable part of the show. The first two songs on my list of favorite Johnny Cash Show performances are great examples of this. So, lets get to the list.

1. Johnny Cash – “Man in Black”

This song came during a time where the country was divided over the Vietnam war. More than in the past, the public was seeing the devastation that war causes. ‘Man in Black’ was introduced to the world for the first time ever on the Johnny Cash Show and brought everyone that watched to tears. The song, the performance, and then the show became history in just a few notes and lyrics.

2. Neil Young – “Needle and the Damage Done”

Speaking about drugs so candidly had not really been at this time. The topic of drug abuse and loss of life from addiction was something that needed to be mentioned. The rise of effected veterans, college students, musicians, artists, and many others was too high for the nation to over look any more. Speaking about it on the Johnny Cash Show made a real statement and example for America.

3. Merle Haggard & Johnny Cash – “Sing Me Back Home”

What a fantastic thing to have Merle Haggard singing with the man that influenced him to become a country music star. Seeing Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin while he was an inmate made Haggard set a goal for his release date. Merle Haggard has forever said that Cash gave the motivation that led Haggard to making 38 #1 hit songs.

4. Louie Armstrong & Johnny Cash – “Blue Yodel No. 9″

It is not just his past playing with Jimmie Rodgers that led Louie Armstrong to the Johnny Cash Show stage. He had been such an influence to the music world long before the first airing of the program. I am sure he just wanted to show off his great yodeling skills. He and Johnny Cash mixing their voices and instruments make for one of the best performances ever, not just on this show.

 5. Ray Charles – “Ring of Fire”

I am a huge Johnny Cash and Ray Charles fan. My love for both is equal, making this performance one of the greatest moments in music history in my opinion. Giving this hit a new tempo, a little funk, and his amazing voice; Ray Charles takes “Ring of Fire” to a whole new level.

These were my favorite moments, but it was a very difficult thing to try and pick just five from all of the fantastic Johnny Cash Show performances. If you get a chance, check out the documentary that came out about the show. “The Best of the Johnny Cash Show 1969-1971″ will bring back memories and blow you away.

So, let us know which Johnny Cash Show performances were your favorites.

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