Keep On the Sunny Side - June Carter Cash: Her Life In Music
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.