Keep on the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music

Keep on the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music

5.0 2
by June Carter Cash

Unlike her legendary husband, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash has been underrepresented in the anthology department, an oversight that this sweeping double-disc overview corrects in large measure. An entertainer, interpreter, and writer of the first rank, June recorded only three solo albums in her lifetime but made dozens of other…  See more details below


Unlike her legendary husband, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash has been underrepresented in the anthology department, an oversight that this sweeping double-disc overview corrects in large measure. An entertainer, interpreter, and writer of the first rank, June recorded only three solo albums in her lifetime but made dozens of other recordings with her sisters and mother, and even with the Original Carter Family. Her history is writ large here. It begins with a high-spirited 1939 radio performance of A. P. Carter's "Keep on the Sunny Side" and touches down at interesting points throughout her distinguished career. Those unfamiliar with June's early history are in for a treat, thanks to several cuts featuring the Carter Sisters' haunting mountain harmonies: They are represented on their own; with Mother Maybelle (four tracks, including "Root Hog or Die," feature one of Mother Maybelle's discoveries on guitar, one Chet Atkins); and by June on some hard-to-find solo recordings from the early days. The more familiar material includes three scintillating cuts with Johnny Cash, including the rambunctious hit "Jackson" and the touching duet on Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter." June's adult solo career is well represented by several traditional, Carter Family–styled tracks from her three albums, which returned her to the more rustic style of her ancestors and were simply among the best traditional country records of the past few decades. Most touching of all is a weathered duet between Johnny and June on the stirring spiritual "Far Side Banks of Jordan." And in a sequencing of elegant symmetry, the set closes with the elderly June going out where she came in on this collection, with a rendition of "Keep on the Sunny Side" that finds her buoyant optimism still heartening, all these years later. Beautifully conceived and essential in all respects.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
While singer/songwriter/actress/comedienne June Carter Cash's musical legacy may pale in comparison to her beloved husband's work, it is in no way eclipsed by it. As the baby of the legendary Carter Family, June was immersed in the world of entertainment at birth, a vocation that she took to like wildfire. Irreverent and unafraid, she made her radio debut at the age of nine and embarked upon a career that would span six decades. Those years are dutifully and lovingly preserved within the elegant bindings of Columbia/Legacy's Keep on the Sunny Side: June Carter Cash -- Her Life in Music. Book-ended by two very different versions of the collection's namesake tune (one from 1939 and the other from 2003), the two-disc set boasts 40 tracks -- 15 of which were previously available only as vinyl singles -- as well as extensive liner notes from Holly George-Warren and Elvis Costello. Numerous photographs, many from June's own scrapbooks, are peppered throughout the booklet. One shot in particular, a stoic and immersed Carter Cash standing behind a guard while watching her husband perform one of his legendary prison shows (Folsom perhaps?) is particularly affecting. The majority of the material has been culled from her prolific '70s period with Johnny ("Jackson," "Tall Loverman," "If I Were a Carpenter"), as well as her years with the Carter Family. Sadly, her more recent forays into the recording booth (1999's Press On and 2003's posthumous Wildwood Flower) have been given very little attention -- just a few cuts -- but they're both solid albums in their own right and would make great companions to this anthology. That said, Keep on the Sunny Side is a fair and lovingly crafted tribute, one that feels more like an old family photo album than a collection of recordings. Like her husband, June's voice was the voice of the gentry. It was a study in character over polish. Whether fueled by the soft pulse of her beloved Autoharp, or by the deep growl of her Southwestern Virginia lineage, she delivered each song with such confidence, empathy, and humor that her soul poured each one out as perfection itself.

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Product Details

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Disc 1

  1. Keep on the Sunny Side  -  Carter Family
  2. Oh, Susannah
  3. Root, Hog or Die
  4. Baby, It's Cold Outside
  5. Country Girl
  6. Foggy Mountain Top
  7. Fair and Tender Ladies
  8. He's Solid Gone
  9. Juke Box Blues
  10. No Swallerin' Place
  11. Love Oh Crazy Love
  12. He Went Slippin' Around
  13. Well I Guess I Told You Off
  14. Strange Woman
  15. The Heel
  16. How Did You Get Away from Me
  17. Tall Loverman
  18. Without a Love to Call My Own
  19. Ring of Fire
  20. Keep on the Sunny Side  - Johnny Cash

Disc 2

  1. Jackson
  2. If I Were a Carpenter
  3. The Loving Gift
  4. A Good Man
  5. Ole Slewfoot
  6. Losin' You
  7. The Shadow of a Lady
  8. Gatsby's Restaurant
  9. Once Before I Die
  10. The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore
  11. East Virginia Blues
  12. Gone
  13. Appalachian Pride
  14. I Love You Sweetheart
  15. Another Broken Hearted Girl
  16. Song to John
  17. Far Side Banks of Jordan
  18. Diamonds in the Rough
  19. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  20. Keep on the Sunny Side

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

June Carter Cash   Primary Artist,Guitar,Autoharp,Vocals
Homer & Jethro   Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals
Nancy Blake   Mandolin
Norman Blake   Guitar
Buddy Emmons   Steel Guitar
Earl Scruggs   Guitar
Marty Stuart   Guitar
Chet Atkins   Electric Guitar
Jethro Burns   Mandolin,Vocals
Carlene Carter   Vocals,Background Vocals
Johnny Cash   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Rosanne Cash   Vocals
Floyd Cramer   Piano
Johnny Gimble   Fiddle
Carl Smith   Vocals
Jan Howard   Background Vocals
Billy Grammer   Guitar
Grady Martin   Electric Guitar
Bill Pursell   Piano
John McEuen   Banjo
Anita Carter   Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Carter Sisters   Vocals
Gordon Terry   Fiddle
Mother Maybelle Carter   Guitar,Autoharp,Vocals
Larry Butler   Keyboards
Bob Carpenter   Accordion
A.P. Carter   Vocals
Sara Carter   Guitar,Vocals
Floyd Chance   Bass
Dennis Crouch   Bass
Ray Edenton   Rhythm Guitar
D.J. Fontana   Drums
Marshall Grant   Bass
Jeff Hanna   Vocal Harmony
Homer Haynes   Guitar,Vocals
Jerry Hensley   Guitar,Vocals
Kelso Herston   Guitar
Byron House   Bass
Jimmy Ibbotson   Mandolin,Vocal Harmony
Tommy Jackson   Fiddle
Red Lane   Guitar
Rufus Long   Flute
Luther Perkins   Electric Guitar
Jack Routh   Guitar
Jerry Shook   Guitar
Henry Strzelecki   Bass
George Tidwell   Trumpet
Jerry Whitehurst   Piano
Bob Wootton   Electric Guitar
Joe Zinkan   Bass
W.S. Holland   Drums
Roy Huskey   Bass
Farris Coursey   Drums
Tiffany A. Lowe   Background Vocals
Helen Carter   Accordion,Vocals,Background Vocals
Rick Lonow   Drums
Johnny Sibert   Steel Guitar
Velma Williams   Rhythm Guitar
"Papa" John Gordy   Piano
David O Jones   Guitar
Hal Smith   Bass
David Johnston   Keyboards
Laura Cash   Guitar,Background Vocals
Lorrie Carter Bennett   Background Vocals
Carl "The Truth" Smith   Vocals
Bill Guild   Announcer
Rosey Nix   Vocals
Larry McCoy   Piano
Bob Johnson   Banjo,Lute

Technical Credits

Stephen Foster   Composer
Johnny Cash   Producer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Elvis Costello   Liner Notes
Jerry Leiber   Composer
Mother Maybelle Carter   Composer
Joe Allison   Producer
Charlie Bragg   Producer
B. Bryant   Composer
Larry Butler   Producer
A.P. Carter   Composer
Sara Carter   Composer
Don Davis   Producer
Gregg Geller   Producer
Charles Randolph Grean   Producer
Frank Jones   Producer
Don Law   Producer
Steve Sholes   Producer
Holly George-Warren   Liner Notes
J.B. Ritchie   Composer
A. Carter   Composer
John Carter Cash   Producer,Executive Producer
Lou Robin   Executive Producer
Mark Unterberger   Package Manager
J. Stephen Howard   Composer
I.J. Smith   Composer
Bill Guild   Interviewer
J.R. Cash   Composer
Maria P. Marulanda   Art Direction

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Keep on the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – Disc 1 (48:19), Disc 2 (57:12) -- This monumental 2-disc archive comes with a hard cover CD book full of liner notes, historical perspectives, song credits and photographs. The Carter Family (A.P., Sara, Maybelle) first recorded in Bristol, Tn. in 1927, two years before June was born. This project opens with the original Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side,” followed by ten-year-old June Carter singing “Oh! Susannah” in 1939. The 1949 cut of “Root Hog or Die” includes her trademark “growl,” and her comic routines until 1948 as Aunt Polly might’ve included buck-dancing. Onstage, she simply became “Little Junie Carter” (a friendly, innocent tease) when they came to the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. Besides including songs recorded alone with Nashville sidemen, disc 1 takes us up to 1964 with cuts from the Carter Sisters & Mother Maybelle, June with Carl Smith (a refreshing but largely ignored rendition of “Love Oh Crazy Love”), June with Homer & Jethro (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Country Girl”), and The Carter Family with Johnny Cash. Unfortunately, some of musicians (pedal steel, drums, piano, guitar, bass) accompanying June on songs like “Juke Box Blues,” “No Swallerin’ Place,” and “The Heel” are unknown. Just from her tone and inflection, it’s readily apparent that June was a good-time fun-loving gal who always kept on the sunny side of life. She was a true entertainer who loved to sing. However, her success was slow in coming in an era where female vocalists were more of a novelty in country music. June’s various antics and hillbilly humor became part of her act presumably as a result of her own lack of self-confidence as a vocalist. After she and Carl Smith divorced in 1956, she studied acting in New York. “The Heel” (about a paranoid, love-obsessed, would-be killer) was recorded after five years away from the studio. In 1961, Johnny Cash invited Maybelle and the Carter Sisters to tour with him. June co-authored “Ring of Fire,” and her 1964 version is presented here. Disc 2 has material recorded primarily between 1967-1976, along with three cuts from 1999-2003 (Will the Circle be Unbroken, Diamonds in the Rough, Keep on the Sunny Side). The four songs sung with Johnny Cash come from 1967, 1969, 1972 and 1976. "Jackson" and "If I Were a Carpenter" were both top 40 hits for them. They toured widely and also had a highly-rated television show in the late 1960s and 70s. June also sings “Once Before I Die” with Jerry Hensley. Some of the most enjoyable songs on disc 2 are the non-duo tracks, and especially those originals such as “A Good Man,” “Losin’ You,” “Gatsby’s Restaurant,” “Appalachian Pride,” and a number of others. While largely unnoticed at the time, her songs from this period are indicative of her experience, maturity, comedic verve and dramatic aptitude. Her mountain soul and roots may be best revealed with a cover of Jean Ritchie’s “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore.” She put out a successful album in 1999 called “Press On.” Shortly after she finished recording the album “Wildwood Flower,” June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003. This 2-CD compilation is welcome documentation of “her life in music.” Earl Scruggs stated, “She was always full of energy and a really great show-gal.” And as Johnny Cash once said, “June’s work will live on and on.” (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago