Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Cash Coverstravaganza: If I Had A Million Dollars

There are amazing coincidences in life and one of the coolest in the history of rock music happened on December 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.  Carl Perkins was there to record, among other things, "Matchbox" when Jerry Lee Lewis came in at the request of Sam Phillips to play on that session.  Then Elvis showed up, randomly, with his girlfriend.  Then Johnny Cash came in (according to his autobiography he wanted to hear Perkins' session).  Holy carp, how can you resist that?  Sam Phillips couldn't so he made a call to The Memphis Press-Scimitar's entertainment editor Bob Johnson who stopped by with a United Press International photographer.

They jammed for a precious few hours and taped 47 tracks.  There were a couple of Christmas songs (it was December after all), some rockers (including two by Chuck Berry) and a lot of traditional Gospel and Country songs.  As I was preparing this post and listening to what's available on YouTube from that session I was thrilled to find one of my favorite Gospel songs, "I Shall Not Be Moved." Everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Ricky Van Shelton has covered it but I have a particular soft spot for Mississippi John Hurt's version, recorded in...well, that's a good question.  This live version appeared posthumously in 1970 on The Best of Mississippi John Hurt but not even the John Hurt Museum is entirely certain when he first recorded it.

In The Milllion Dollar Quartet jam you can hear Elvis and Jerry Lee singing most prominently and you can definitely tell that's Carl Perkins on the guitar there.  So where's Johnny Cash's distinctive growl?  According to Cash he was the furthest from the microphone. 

I think I hear him a couple of times there but I can't be sure.  No matter, though, because he recorded it again with Rick Rubin on 1994's Unearthed: My Mother's Hymn Book (Disc 4).  I can't decide whether I'd rather hear his voice blended with The King's and The Killer's or not. 


While it would have been interesting to hear them all together in a balanced mix I think I'm leaning toward not right now.  That may change tomorrow, of course, but it'll be Thursday and I won't be worrying about it.  You have a good Wednesday!


  1. Amazing how many different ways a song is served up. The quartet's version is a plate full of 'this-is-how-my-mama-cooked-it' music. JRC's version is a steak - yeah, he's eaten foods from around the world but he's always going to be a steak man. MJH's - ohhhhhhh - comfort food (a second helpling please).

  2. That's an awesome description, Kitty. I love MJH a lot, too.


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