Carnival Saloon has a really lovely and enlightening interview with Tony Tost about his 33 1/3 volume on Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, the album’s producer Rick Rubin, social justice, and songwriting.
Do you think the film Walk the Line would have been made if Johnny hadn’t made American Recordings?
I don’t think Walk the Line gets made without the Rick Rubin resurrection narrative, no. And American Recordings was the start of that. Walk the Line is basically the prequel to the Hurt video. And we don’t get the Hurt song or video without the preceding stunt covers of Danzig, Soundgarden, Beck, Depeche Mode that Rubin encouraged.
I’m waiting for the sequel to Walk the Line, which I think would be a very different kind of movie. You’d have Cash’s career decline and missteps back into addiction and into adultery. You’d have Johnny and June’s corresponding religious fervor. There’s the traumatic robbery they suffered in Jamaica, when their son John Carter was held at gunpoint while thieves ransacked the place. There’s the infamous ostrich attack on the Cash property, with Johnny getting sliced open after picking a fight with the bird. That’s also a part of the Cash story. I’m interested in how one generates meaning and identity in the midst of all of this tawdry kind of crap, as opposed to the fairy tale of Walk the Line, that somehow suggests all the crap is erased by the redemptive powers of true love.