Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976 & 1977
Two DVDs (sold separately)
Johnny Cash was one of those rare figures in American music that was loved by most everyone. Country music fans, counterculturalists, the establishment, and lovers of traditional gospel music all found plenty of reasons to like the Man In Black.
After his television show went off the air, he still was in high demand, so CBS contracted with him for two hour-long Christmas variety specials in 1976 and 1977. And now, they are available on DVD.
The 1976 show is more “down-home” featuring sing alongs with the friends and family in the Cash home. It also features Roy Clark, Merle Travis, The Carter Family, Barbara Mandrell, Billy Graham, and …Tony Orlando!
Yes, that’s right, Mr. Orlando is a guest on this TV special, and he sings “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” along with Cash and June Carter Cash. Yes, he calls it his “prison song,” and actually, back in the day, that was probably the only way that song could be interpreted, as schmaltzy as it was.
The 1976 show was decent, even though Orlando stuck out like a sore thumb (but he was hot back then). However, the 1977 show was a classic.
Recorded shortly after the death of Elvis Presley, Cash turned this into a Sun Records reunion, with special guests Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. One segment has that quartet singing songs that made them famous back in the 1950s, and even if the production is a bit glitzy, it’s still a treat.
Cash also has the Statler Brothers, who used to back him on tour, as guests, along with Roy Clark. At the time, the Statler Brothers were huge stars in the country music scene, and no doubt they drew some eyes to the special at the time. While the music of the Statler Brothers could never be considered edgy (except for perhaps “Flowers On The Wall”), they could sing and fit in well with Cash.
Roy Clark, known for his Hee-Haw antics, is an excellent musician and also does a great job with Cash on these specials.
Holiday specials always run the risk of being too cloying, sentimental, or over-the-top with their heartfeltness goo. In both of these Cash avoids this, and lets the music speak for his feelings on the meaning of Christmas.
Both DVDs are currently available, and for fans of Cash they’re a must have.
“In The Pines” by The Carter Family (from ’76):
Windows Media; QuickTime
“Christmas Time’s A Comin’” by Johnny Cash (from ’77):
Windows Media; QuickTime
The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976
Wandering – Johnny Cash
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree – Tony Orlando, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Far Away Places – Johnny Cash & Roy Clark
Juke Box Saturday Night – Roy Clark
That Lucky Old Sun – Johnny Cash
The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) – Roy Clark
Stephen Foster Medley
Camptown Races – Johnny Cash, Roy Clark & Tony Orlando
Beautiful Dreamer – Roy Clark
Old Folks At Home – Johnny Cash
Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair – Tony Orlando
Oh! Susanna – Johnny Cash, Roy Clark & Tony Orlando
Follow Me – June Carter Cash
Cannonball Rag – Merle Travis
That Christmasy Feeling – Tommy Cash
In The Pines – Carter Family
Steel Guitar Rag – Barbara Mandrell
It’s A Beautiful Morning With You – Barbara Mandrell
Old Time Feeling – Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
A Story Of Christmas – Billy Graham
The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1977
Christmas Time’s A-Comin’ – Johnny Cash
Darlin’ Companion – Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
This Ole House – Johnny Cash & The Statler Brothers
Blue Christmas – Johnny Cash & The Statler Brothers
Here Comes Santa Claus – Johnny Cash & Roy Clark
Frosty The Snow Man – Johnny Cash & Roy Clark
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Johnny Cash and Roy Clark
Big River – Johnny Cash
Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On – Jerry Lee Lewis
White Christmas – Jerry Lee Lewis
This Train Is Bound For Glory – Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison & Carl Perkins
Silent Night –Johnny Cash, Family & Friends
O Little Town Of Bethlehem – June Carter Cash
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Johnny Cash, Family & Friends
Children Go Where I Send Thee – Johnny Cash, Family & Friends