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Talking Music and Little Tiny Camels with John Carter Cash


Photos of John Carter Cash
Photos of John Carter Cash
2013 John Carter
John Carter Cash
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

I was really looking forward to talking to this man. He has such a rich and interesting family history and he is so creative. He had to be in New York City working on something that involved his father’s estate so our interview was conducted by telephone. I imagined he was standing in a corner phone booth and that is how I want my reader to imagine him as well. It was a cold damp day in New York City and when John spoke you could see his breath in the air. He huddled close up against the phone itself hoping it was generate some heat.

I assured the son of the man in Black that we could make this quick as I knew he was very busy. His laid back gentle personality let me know that he was not in a rush. The interview went something like this.

Q So what are you doing in New York?

A There is actually a Johnny Cash record coming out previously unreleased. It’s coming out in March and I am up here doing some interviews for the release of that record.

Q Did you produce the record?

A It was originally produced by Billy Sherrill in 1984 but we went back in and added some new music and new instruments and made a few modifications, not a whole lot and then I produced along with a fellow named Steve Berkowitz so yeah I was one of the producers on the record.

Q I would love to get something out of you that you’ve never told anybody before. I mean you have lived in the spotlight your whole life being the son of two iconic people.

A Yeah, it is just so important to me that people know the importance of the legacy within my heart. Yes I do my own music, yes I do live performances and I produce a lot of records and all this and write books and do a lot independent away from my father’s world but I am still very blessed by the legacy and it’s still very much a part of my daily life. It is still very important to me for sure.

Q Do you have a story, something cute or something that has always stayed with you that you have never told anybody?

A I would have to think about it for a minute.

Q You know, a moment in time that kind of comes back and stays with you from maybe a walk in the woods, it can be anything. I know that you probably have to think about that. I love to always get something from somebody that they have never told before.

A Let me think on it while we do the interview and maybe something will come to me.

Q Okay, I know you have done some producing for Angel Mary and the Tennessee Werewolves?

A Yes, they did their own version of Folsom Prison Blues and it was a lot of fun to work with those guys. We are talking about doing more.

Q They think very highly of you.

A Yeah cool. It was a fun process so we will keep it up.

Q One of the reasons for this interview is you are participating in that show on January 18th at the Rutledge?

A Yes, it should be a lot of fun. Kasey Lansdale, another artist I produced and then Blue Mother Tupelo, a great act that’s a duet and then Raelyn Nelson who is Willie Nelson’s granddaughter. We wrote some songs together and I really like Raelyn’s work, then of course Angel Mary and the Tennessee Werewolves which will be quite an energetic show. I love playing the Rutledge. I think it’s a great room. It has a great energy. I like the folks there and when I played it last time we filled it up so hopefully this will be the same. I know it is going to be an exciting show and folks are going to have a lot of fun. It is going to be a diverse night of music. That is for sure.

Q Yeah it sure is and the show is going to be like 4 or 5 hours?

A Yeah, it will probably be 7:30 to 11:30. It will be a pretty long show. We will go until they kick us out.


Q What is your favorite venue to play in Nashville?

A Well I do enjoy the Rutledge. I used to play Douglas Corner a whole lot. In fact I did a show there not too long ago. I have played The Exit Inn but I really like the room at the Rutledge. I like the space and spirit in there. I have played the Cannery and a few other places but if I had to pick a favorite, I would say the Rutledge.

Q Have you ever played at the Ryman?

A There was a Johnny Cash postage stamp that came out a few months back and I got up on stage at the Ryman with a bunch of other musicians and we all did a tribute to my father, his life and his music. That was fun. I run a mix bag of creativity. I produce music, I record my own music, and I also write books. I do a lot of work with the Cash estate so I am always busy one way or another.

Q Yeah, that’s what I mean; you are wearing all these different hats.

A Yeah and it sort of has become my life’s necessity but if I was only managing the estate I think it would drive me crazy. I would have to have other things that I am doing. I have to have other creative outlets. If I were only in music production I would probably get bored with it. I write music and I produce music and then I also write books. I have a novel out right now. I have a Novel out called Lucas Rex that I wrote that came out this year. The soft cover will come out next year. I am always active in creativity, always looking for the next thing to be excited about.

Q Well that is what it is all about. I know what you are talking about because I am a writer and a songwriter and I just released a children’s book called, “The Traveling Jalapeno’s

A I have three children’s books out.

Q That’s so cool. I love my Jalapeno’s. They were born out of taco Sunday’s with the grandchildren.

A My children’s books were born by my relationship with my mother, my relationship with my daughter and children. They all came out of that.

Q Right, so you have three (3) children?

A Yes I do. I have Joseph (17), Anna (12) and Jack he’s seven (7).

Q Oh, you have a seven year old. That’s a great age

A I am divorced and I live in Hendersonville and work down in my recording studio which is the Cash Cabin Studio.

Q Are you children still local?

A Ah hah. I have them 1/3rd of the year.

Q Well as long as you still get to be with them because it is important that they have both Mother and Father.

A Oh yeah, it’s essential.

Q Are you currently working on a new CD?

A I am and hopefully I can get it released this year. I am just taking my time with it. It took me four (4) and a half years to make, “The Family Secret,” and it will probably take me four (4) and a half to make this one.

Q That is because you are always producing music for everybody else. It is hard for you to find time to do your own thing.

A All the tracks are cut. I just need to work on some vocals and some backgrounds and a few other instruments. The rest is finished.

Q Do you bring other people in and you also co-write with other people as well?

A I do. I write a lot with Bill Miller, he is a Native American artist. He is a Grammy award winning artist and we have written forty or fifty songs together. I produced a record for Wesley Orbison last year and it came out. It is called, “Spread Your Wings.” It is a beautiful work. Wesley sounds a lot like his father in his own way and Wesley and I write a whole lot together.

Q If somebody wanted you to be their record producer is there any way that they can just get to you and ask you to do that or do you pick and choose?

A They can go to John Carter I have a public email on there. I can always be reached through John Carter They can always find out more about what I am doing and then I have a Facebook which is John Carter Cash. I check those regularly.

Q Okay cool so you are accessible where somebody can just email you and say I am coming to Nashville and I would like to talk to you about being the producer on some of my songs or my album or whatever?

A I am pretty scattered sometimes so if they can’t get through to me, they just need to try again.


Q Okay, that sounds great. Did you come up with anything from your childhood?

A You know when I was a kid and I don’t think I ever told this. I don’t know why this came to me but I remember one time being on the road, my parents told me this story later. They said I kept telling them that I had a camel in my shoe.


A They were like yeah, you got a camel in your shoe or whatever. Well finally they noticed that I was limping and they bent down and took off my shoe and there in my shoe was a little tiny camel.

Q What?

A I don’t think I have ever told that story. A little bitty tiny toy camel.


Q They thought you were crazy.

A They didn’t know how I had gotten it so they tried to figure it out. We were at one airport and they figured out that I had stolen it in the other airport like earlier in the day. I had just picked it up and put it in my shoe for some reason. I think I was four or five years old.

Q That is too cute. So you really had a camel in your shoe.

A I really had a camel in my shoe that I had grabbed and stuffed in there when I was passing a toy store.

Q Was it a little Joe Camel from Camel Cigarettes?

A No, this was way before there was little Joe.

Q So not a little Joe?

A Yeah, this was back in about 1974.

Q That’s so cute. See what an adorable story that is? So you were shoplifting as they were bringing you through airports?

A I was shoplifting. My apologies to whoever it was out there that I high-jacked that camel from.


Q I love it. Here you were a little kid but didn’t you have any pockets?

A I don’t know. I wanted that camel for some reason. I do believe that was the first and last thing I shoplifted in my life.


Q That is so funny that he put that camel in his shoe. I can just imagine a little boy with a chocolate covered face saying, I have a camel in my shoe. “ Hey Mamma, Daddy, I got a camel in my shoe.”

I love getting these kinds of stories out of people. That’s great. We talked some more about specifics regarding his upcoming performance in Nashville on January 18th, 2014 at the Rutledge and then we said our goodbyes. If you don’t know John Carter Cash and his work, make sure to check him out at his website and Facebook page listed below or better yet, come on out and catch a live show but remember to not put a camel in your shoe.

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