I first met Johnny in 1969. My girlfriend, Joni Mitchell, was performing on this television show in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry…along with Bob Dylan, Ed Ames, and…The Monkees. He was polite and friendly to everyone around. Now I’m sure that wasn’t always the case. After all, he was a saint and a sinner…to the max…but when he invited us to dinner at his home, you knew he meant it.
At the end of the meal Johnny got up and tapped a wineglass with a golden fork, “Here at the Cash household we have a tradition. We provide the food, and you sing for your supper,” he said in that great voice of his. “So who’s gonna start?” Nobody moved a muscle…after all, Bob was there sitting on the stairs with his wife, Sara, in public again after his motorcycle accident a few years earlier. He was in town recording the album that would become Nashville Skyline. Finally I couldn’t stand the tension anymore, and I got up to sing a new song, “Marrakesh Express”…I was doing pretty well until the final chord of my song…with a flourish I stood up and walked into a floor lamp. Everyone laughed nervously, breaking the tension in the room. The evening ended up with Dylan singing two or three songs from the album…a truly memorable night, one in which I gained a great respect for The Man in Black.