Saturday, November 03, 2007

I was there when it happened.

9:04 AM Starkville Public Library
Kicking off Day 2 of the inaugural Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival is a reading and book singing by long time Cash bassist and founder of the Tennessee Two, Marshall Grant. He'll do his thing at the Starkville Public Library at 9am; afterwards I'll do mine and interview him about his place in music history (he is, after all, that famous "thwacka thwacka" "Train Keep a Rollin'" standup bass sound incarnate, more often inaccurately described as the "boom-chicka-boom" sound).

"THIS is Starkville . . . ." I blog this live at 9:10 am CST from Starkville Public Library, where Johnny Cash plays in the background, a TV DVD set is showing the new Johnny Cash TV show, and Marshall Grantb is singing his book prior to a 10 AM reading. not quite Edward R. Murrow on a London rooftop during The Blitz but the best I have to offer.

O.k. after that bit of Tiffany Network anglophilia back to the Man in Black, The Tennesse Two, and Flower Pickin'. Right now Marshall Grant is telling his version of the Flower Pickin' story. "2:30 in the morning May 12, 1965. Cash is in the jail kicking at the door and broke his little toe. Next morning at 8 o'clock Sherriff told him 'I went home last night and told my wife I had you in jail and we prayed for you . . .' Gave him his little pills back. Had a termendous impact on him. For the next five years, he stayed sober."

Right now Krista Vowell is questioning Grant currently focusing on Cash's famous prison concerts. The Folsom prison album is one of the Top 5 selling of all time according to Grant; "It was huge for us.". Now he's talking about San Quentin. "A Boy Named Sue was born there . . . . We (the band) had never heard a 'Boy Named Sue.' . . . .the songwriter had it in his briefcase. Took it out and sat it in the middle of the floor in the dressing room . . . . so he said 'Kick it off Carl' and then he sang 'My Daddy feft home.' . . . We spent about 30 cents on this one for production."

"The first song we auditioned with at Sun was 'I Was There When It Happened.' He [Sam Phillips] turned us down and told us 'come back when you have something new.' That's why I chose it for the title of my memoir. . . . It's the only book written from the inside out."

During the Q&A Grant tells the story of how Sam Phillips suckered "Cash a & the 2" to do one take of "I Walked the Line" uptempo instead of as aballad for their wives as they originally intended. Unbeknownst to them who were performing at the Louisiana Hayride, He cut an acetate and released the fast version to radio stations. Grants said, "Sam was right, but we'd never admit it to him."


Marshall waiting to sign books


Robbie Ward presents Mr. Grant with a plaque


Post-interview your intrepid blogger with the Tennessee One

12:15 pm Donwtown Main Street
The festival really kicked off with the 2 primary blocks of main street closed to traffic, lined by food vendors and the main stage at the Western end between The Courthouse and The Abbey.


WMSV had a tent broadcasting their 12 hour feed of special Johnny Cash-related programming. Here News Director Anthony Craven mugs for the camera.


Superstar Donkey Donkey made quite a racket for a two piece.





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