On a remote, woodsy compound outside Nashville, producer and songwriter John Carter Cash lives out the legacy that his father, Johnny Cash, and mother, June Carter Cash founded in a tiny log cabin where they recorded many of their later albums, including several of Johnny’s American Series, on which John collaborated as a producer. The Cash family property extends over 40 acres of largely wild land, studded with ponds and deciduous trees, and backed by a small lake. The cabin itself has been thoughtfully maintained in the spirit of its original owners. On nearly every wall hangs a piece of the Native American artwork Johnny collected. Nooks and crannies hold black and white Carter Family photos.
“This is where I was raised,” John explained, trampling winter leaves as he made his way down a hillside on a chilly February morning. “This compound, as my parents called it, is where my dad taught me to hunt squirrels. Mom and Dad had all kinds of animals here. They had antelope and fallow deer. Ostriches and emu. Llamas. All that’s left now are the fallow deer and the llamas, not to mention a henhouse full of chickens I happen to be partial to.”
John Carter Cash is also partial to the recording studio inside the cabin that his parents built. He continues to use the space, both for work on his own music and on albums for other musicians, among them Loretta Lynn and the late George Jones. The cabin, the studio and the land all seem to suit John, as do his father’s clothes.
On the day we spent with John, walking the property and talking on the cabin’s wool-blanketed couches, he wore one of Johnny’s black silk shirts. When we asked John about wearing a piece of his dad, he said: “It’s easy to wear.” After a pause he added: “I’m comfortable in it.” An answer that fits the sense of him as he works within the cabin, walks across the fields of his childhood, and watches over Johnny and June’s flocks – of animals on the land – and of fans all over the world.
Shown above, clockwise: JC fire-brand, a symbol of both Johnny and June Carter Cash. Family mementoes are intermixed with recording equipment throughout the cabin. Stained glass window above the recording studio of Maybelle Carter with her autoharp. Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitar with “Cash” fret.Read the next article