The fabulous Johnny Cash

Among the sentences in the English language least likely to be spoken: “Right now, Johnny Cash is listening to your record” has to rank pretty high, if “your record” refers to one of Yo La Tengo’s.  But Bob Lawton found occasion to say just that during the summer of 1994, and soon after we were in our stripped-down, acoustic mode opening three shows for Johnny Cash, the first of which coming on this date, in Atlanta.  We received a very warm welcome from the headliner–traveling without crew and with limited gear, most everything from Team Cash was at our disposal (Johnny’s monitor was not to be moved, and that was pretty much it for restrictions).  During our set James looked to his left and saw Johnny and June Carter Cash watching us, and nearly swallowed his brain.   The welcome from the audience was a bit chillier.  Our attempts to put our best foot forward (Hank Williams and Gram Parsons covers) were met with indifference; the only time they perked up was when I introduced our last song, which generated the most enthusiasm of our set.  Realizing that our best foot wasn’t going so well, I put my foot elsewhere, responding, “I guess this is what they mean by southern hospitality.”


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