The epic image of Johnny Cash as country music’s most iconic outlaw does not always jive with the fact that the Man in Black was also a subtle, talented literary artist. This is evident on his Forever Words, a collection of Cash’s poems, lyrics, and letters set to music by a swarm of Cash superfans including her daughter Rosanne Cash, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Alisson Krauss, and a lot more. The best minutes on Forever Words disclose as much about the artists taking on Cash’s words as they do about the complex man who once wrote them. Today, we will have “To June This Morning”, immortalized by Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly.
The insightful lyrics from the man who once wrote “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Still Miss Someone” delivers the common line all through the extensive sixteen-song album with all sorts of genre, from traditional bluegrass, rootsy blues, upfront folk and modern jazz. Here is our first part of Cash’s Forever Words Collection.
“To June This Morning”, Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly
“To June This Morning” is a 1970 letter Cash wrote to his pregnant wife, June Carter Cash. Below, watch as country newlyweds, Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly, sing this tender duet. Together, they unearth Cash as a profound sentimentalist.
And I made the morning coffee
Then you feed on the stair.
You said good morning to me,
Then I sat beside you there.
These were the words written on February 2nd, 1970, titled “To June This Morning.” In the poem, from that cold morning defines June, coming down the stairs of their home at Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, Tennessee. That time, June was eight months pregnant with John Carter Cash. As she came down those stairs, carrying that load within her body, the hope within Johnny Cash surged up greatly. Their joy and love grew.
John Carter Cash went to his friend, Ruston Kelly, and asked him if he would be fascinated in seeing one of his father’s poems and possibly putting it to music. As Ruston read the book, tears nearly flooded in his eyes, and said,
“When I was a teenager, I found something that your dad had written to your mother. I actually began to put music to it then…”
That poem occurred to be “To June This Morning”.
As John Carter Cash described,
“Much of this hope my father carried with him those last days of his life specifically came from the beauty of his relationship with my mother.”
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