Johnny Cash Museum

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Left to my own devices, I would probably never visit the Johnny Cash Museum.  I don’t remember what TV shows I watched in the 70’s, but he was on a lot of them.  He never struck a chord with me.  He did with my friend, though, so we stopped on the way to Louisville for the Nick Cave concert I recently reviewed. 

We arrived early on a Saturday morning, to find a line of about 20 people awaiting the 10:00 a.m. opening.  The museum opened this year, but it was still surprising.  You enter a store area for which admission is not required.  Get your Johnny Cash CDs, T-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, etc...

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Upon entering the museum proper, there’s a lot of personal memorabilia that follows, but the series of photos of Cash through the years tells the story of a life lived not just in changing fashions, but the physical changes on a man who lived life hard.

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The rest of the exhibits speak in various ways to Cash through the decades.   Surprisingly, you’re allowed to take pictures of anything, as long as there is no flash.  If you’re a Cash fan, you’re going anyway, so I only took a few.

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His initials, as above, are for John R. Cash.  “Johnny” was adapted for stage use.  Below is the “Million Dollar Quarter Signed Photo,” featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Cash, autographed by everyone but Elvis for the museum founder.  C’mon, Elvis.

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I’m not a particular fan of country music, but I have an appreciation for success.  Cash’s gold and platinum selling records speak to his appeal through the years.

His first album was released in 1957, and the final one was in 2002, not including posthumous releases.  There have been a total of 96 studio albums containing original material, and in other forms over 500.  A total of 51 albums made the Billboard Top 100, whose measurements of industry sales have been the standard since about the time when Cash began recording.

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The wall of album covers is certain to bring back memories to many of his fans.  I suppose that these truly belong in a museum, as the new generation will have no visual reminders of their time spent enjoying digital music content.

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He also released quite a few singles.  (That’s how individual songs were released, kids, with a B-side song on the reverse.  One or none of these songs might appear on the LPs, the Long Playing records pictured above).

His first single was “cry! Cry! Cry!” on Sun Records in 1955. It debuted at #6 n the Billboard chart.  His first #1 single was “I Walk the Line” in 1956, and his final song to chart while he was alive was “Hurt” in 2003.

He placed 134 singles on the Billboard charts including at least two each year for a 38 consecutive year period.  Like I said, he was on TV all the time...  Now, if only The Beatles had matched that...

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The museum has a variety of personal remembrances, stage clothing, guitars, and similar.  But, he started simple, as the portrait below suggests, and finished that way.  I’d consider many of his lyrics poetry, especially those late in his life when he was extremely reflective.

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There are ample tourist options in the Nashville area, and the Johnny Cash Museum belongs high on the list.

Kudos for the souvenir quality, vintage style admission ticket.

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