Johnny & June - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Johnny & June

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because art informed by life and love lived large is a wonderful thing to behold.

Johnny Cash and June Carter were front and center participants in a love story that played out in an arena notoriously unkind to love stories: the entertainment industry. But it’s precisely because of this unforgiving venue that their story had the resonance it did. It was replete with real adult issues like divorce, infidelity, drug abuse and disease, and yet they were able to weather everything until death did them part. And through it all? Music that probably changed your life.

They weathered everything and anything until death did them part. And through it all? Music that probably changed your life.

When considering Johnny and June, it’s screamingly apparent that, on their own, either of them would have been significantly noteworthy. And they were.

Him: Dozens of the most significant awards a musician could win — and about 100 million records sold. 

Her: Performing with her legendary country music family as early as age 10, three Grammys on her own, time at Lee Strasberg’s famous Actors Studio plus a solid body of film work and, through it all, raising her three kids.

Together: Composing a playlist for the ages that marks their desires, renewed commitments and, ultimately, their colossal take on love. “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “Flesh and Blood” are just a few examples.

For OZY’s money, this clip of the two of them performing “Help Me Make It Through the Night” on a 1960s Danish TV show is the one you shouldn’t miss. There’s something happening on stage that’s both intimate and electric. They had many more famous songs together (“Jackson” and “If I Were a Carpenter”), but nothing chills like this clip’s testament to love and cool.

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