Coming in hot on the trails of Johnny Cash's anniversary of death, we've got a list of the 10 best places to visit if you're a true J.R. fan. May the spirit of Johnny Cash live on as our contributor, Dee Gross, guides you through these places significant to The Man In Black, and explains why you need to see them. Read on.
With my Pandora station tuned to the Man in Black, it is easy to think on all the familiar tales that surround Johnny Cash. Most people know about his clothes, his voice, and his songs, but where do you go if you really want to know the man behind the legend. Here is my top 10 places to visit if you are a true Johnny Cash Fan.
Hendersonville is where Johnny Cash lived, so naturally it is an absolute must visit for fans. I would recommend waiting for sunny weather for your visit. The moment Nashville Pike changes to Johnny Cash Parkway, that is your signal to roll down windows and blast your favorite tune. Then you can stop off at the Hendersonville Memorial Gardens. This cemetery is the final resting place of Johnny and June. Pay your respects to one of the greatest loves in music and listen of the ghostly duets that echo in the wind. If you need help finding the burial plot, Hendersonville Memorial Garden even has a website that will help you find the exact location. If you are feeling brave, rent a boat, hop on Old Hickory Lake and head towards Hendersonville. You might be able to catch a glimpse of the ruin of Johnny Cash’s "nature house."
The Grand Ole Opry
There are many reasons to visit The Grand Ole Opry, but this is particularly a great place for Cash fans. Some of Cash’s most famous performances happened at this country music landmark, and being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry is one of country music’s highest honors. It also happens to be where Johnny and June first met.
Sun Records and Studio
Though Cash had an inauspicious beginning at Sun Records, he proved the record executives wrong by recording his first song, "Cry, Cry, Cry." The company itself has moved to Nashville, but the original location has turned into a tourist destination in Memphis.
Though there is some debate as to the legitimacy of the story, this tale is so ingrained in Cash’s lore that it is too big to be ignored. This is the place of Cash’s alleged suicide attempt and subsequent rebirth.
Known as The Mother Church of Country Music, Johnny Cash joined the many amazing musicians that filled its rafters with music. Johnny Cash also filmed the aptly named The Johnny Cash Show here. The show was a classic variety show and featured many famous artists including everyone from Bob Dylan to Bob Hope.
Folsom and San Quentin Prison
Two of Cash’s most iconic performances were at Folsom and San Quentin. These performances cemented his outlaw reputation and were just plain cool. There are debates as to which performance was the best, but perhaps it is best to visit both just to be sure. There is a museum of Folsom Prison that you can visit to learn the history. Not gritty and hardcore, but for $2, not a bad price to follow in the footsteps of a legend. Both are still active prisons complete with death row, so visit at your own risk.
Kingsland is the birthplace of Johnny Cash. It is where he first discovered his love of music and experienced the life-changing tragedy of his brother’s death.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
There is probably, at least, part of you that doubts this recommendation, but put away your judgement for just this one location. Perhaps, this is indeed a tourist destination, but it is good enough to make even the most jaded hearts melt. Located in downtown Nashville, down the street from where Johnny used to work, the CMHOF is celebrating Johnny Cash in its current exhibit Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cash is one of the few artists who has been given the honor of being inducted into both The Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is a definite stop on the Tour de Cash. Especially during October when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will honor The Man in Black during the 21st annual Music Masters series.
The Johnny Cash Museum
If you want to be completely immersed in Cash Memorabilia, then the Johnny Cash Museum is for you. Located in Downtown Nashville on 3rd Ave, it is a home for all things Cash.
Cash’s legend shall never die. His spirit lives on in his music and in the loved ones he left behind. These places offer us mere morsels of a glimpse of greatness. So get your tunes all ready, head out on the road, and prepare to be immersed in the world of Johnny Cash.
Dee Gross is a writer and frequent contributor to the Original Fuzz Magazine. You can find more of her words on her blog The Mad Scientists and Their Gross Life.