7 of the Best Musical Performances from "The Johnny Cash Show"

Riding the career-reviving fame of the At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin live albums, Johnny Cash launched the The Johnny Cash Show on ABC on June 7, 1969. As only a figure like Cash could do, he pushed the format of the variety show to showcase his maverick sensibilities from the Ryman Auditorium stage, while still working within the realities of network programming.

Of course, there were some hokey performances and guests, but Cash also used it to spotlight and champion his favorite artists—many of which broke out of the traditional country mold.

The premiere episode featured a post-Clouds Joni Mitchell, as she was just beginning to break out into larger stardom, and Bob Dylan in a watershed moment for the birth of country-rock. Dylan, still known mostly as the poet of '60s rock music, instead broadcast the gentle country tunes of Nashville Skyline. He even dueted with Cash.

While national audiences may have been shocked by the pairing, Cash and Dylan had become close thanks to Bob Johnston, the Columbia record producer who helped Cash record at Folsom Prison and brought Dylan down to Nashville for a string of albums, including Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding, and Nashville Skyline.

By the time The Johnny Cash Show ended in March 1971, he had lent the stage to Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Young, Odetta, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Charles, and more. Below, enjoy some of the best performances.

Bob Dylan - "Threw It All Away"
Odetta
Joni Mitchell - "California"
Johnny Cash - "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
Buffy Saint-Marie - "Quiet Places"
Ray Charles - "Ring of Fire"
Waylon Jennings - "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line"

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