Tennessee Ernie Ford: Behind The Hillbilly Camouflage

Source: archive.org

His name sounded very hillbilly: Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991). But don’t get fooled: hidden behind the hillbilly camouflage was a versatile singer and sophisticated entertainer. Tennessee Ernie Ford sang raw rock ‘n’ roll, country songs,  standards and spiritual music. He had his very successful TV shows in the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties.

Have a look at some wonderful duets with guitar player and singer Merle Travis (1917-1983). Who by the way wrote Ernie’s signature hit “Sixteen Tons”. The duets are from “The Ford Show”, aired  1960 on November 24. They just sing some ditties, but the joy and positive energy is overwhelming.

The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show (1969-1971)

Johnny Cash TV Show

Legendary Country singer and songwriter Johnny Cash hosted the unique «Johnny Cash TV Show» from 1969 until 1971. It was shown on the US network ABC. Cash not only presented country musicians. He also invited singer/songwriters, folk, rock, rhythm and blues musicians and others – a very eclectic blend of music. The double DVD set The Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show takes you on a fascinating musical journey back in time.

For contemporary ears it’s surprising to hear that the musicians on «The Johnny Cash TV Show» performed live. Live performances is something that only happens very seldom in today’s television shows. Back than there was no playback. The music was really live. It’s a pleasure to see the different musicians that Cash invited to the show. The show was open to country legends, rockstars and soul singers – there were no restrictions. Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, Chet Atkins, Derek And The Dominos (with Eric Clapton), Stevie Wonder, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride, Kris Kristofferson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Marty Robbins: they all were welcome.

Johnny Cash sang duets with many guests. He sang with Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Jony Mitchell, and Pete Seeger. These duets are not too perfect, but very likeable. The charisma of Johnny Cash is breathtaking and he touches the soul with his deep religiousness, that doesn’t have a hypocritical undertone.

There are over 50 songs on the DVDs, the package is well done, and the booklet is informative. Besides the show there are interviews with Johnny Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Hank Williams Jr., musical arranger Bill Walker, and others. Theres only one downside: after seeing «The Johnny Cash TV Show» you won’t accept musicians that play playback. Because you have seen and heard the real thing. You may even catch yourself mumbling something like «back in the old times everything was better». And you’re right – at least where music is concerned.