Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.
Most people over the age of 50 have heard that line, followed by the tune Folsom Prison Blues…as that is how Johnny would open his shows. Whether or not a person is a country music fan, they most likely know a song or two by the performer. The Man in Black, so named for his trademark clothing shade, had a career that spanned six decades. He sold over 90 million records during that period.
When we met up with our friends Jodee and Bill last year in Nashville, they had just visited the Johnny Cash Museum. Bill Miller, a former resident of the same small town in California where Jodee and Bill grew up, had recently opened the attraction. Bill Miller’s son had also opened Nudie’s Honky Tonk. The bar is a tribute to Nudie Cohn…the tailor who specialized in the rhinestone-covered suits that country stars so often wore. We checked out Nudie’s and the Country Music Hall of Fame with Jodee, but missed seeing the museum. With that in mind, we set out to see the tribute to Cash this year.
Located just off of Broadway, the Johnny Cash Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Nashville. Not long after it opened, Miller debuted the Patsy Cline Museum on the second floor of the building. Just yesterday…on the 50th anniversary of the release of the song Sing Me Back Home, Rolling Stone Magazine announced that Bill and his wife were opening the Merle Haggard Museum next door. Needless to say, this is fast becoming a popular spot!
We learned that Cash was given the name J.R. by his parents. When he was in the service, the Air Force told him he had to have a full name, so he chose John. He was a Morse Code Intercept Operator assigned to monitor the Soviets, and was the first person in the west to learn of Joseph Stalin’s death. Prior to the service, he worked for a whole two weeks in an auto plant in Pontiac, Michigan. Sure glad that job didn’t pan out!
Once out of the service, he began his musical career, quickly finding his way to the top of the charts. The museum walks the visitor through his career in chronological order, with many interesting artifacts from his life, including this Gibson guitar, which was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. All of the good and bad aspects of his life are presented, though the focus is more toward the positive. There are several videos that show the entertainer along the way, which we really enjoyed.
This orange duster and the Guild guitar featured on the cover of Rolling Stone were gifted to Bill Miller by Cash, as a token of the friendship they had built up over the years. Bill visited Johnny just 6 days before the singer’s death.
From there, we walked up Broadway a couple of blocks to Nudie’s.
We enjoyed lunch and a drink at the longest bar in Nashville! When one of the band members came around with the tip jar, he asked if we had any requests.
Our choice of the Johnny Cash tune Ring of Fire was played for the second time that day, another tribute to his continued popularity. 😊 We once sang a “spectacular” version of this song, led by our friend Mike, while in a traffic jam after the fireworks in Traverse City…windows rolled down, of course!
If you make it to Nashville, be sure to check out the Johnny Cash Museum and Nudie’s Honky Tonk. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon!
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