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Johnny Cash

The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1978 DVD – 2008 (Shout! Factory)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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The 1978 Johnny Cash Christmas Special took place in Los Angeles, not his usual Nashville digs. Even so, Cash can't be accused of going Hollywood. Granted, comedic guest Steve Martin didn't have to travel far to get there, and songwriter Kris Kristofferson was becoming better known as a movie star by that time.

This show nevertheless feels Nashville-y. Kristofferson and (then) wife Rita Coolidge duet with June and John on Christmas Time's A-Comin', and Kris and John pair up for Sunday Morning Coming Down, one of the best hangover songs ever. These are two highlights, but this show also has a couple missteps. For instance, why did Cash dust off that eternally silly Ballad of a Teenage Queen"? Also, Cash tries too hard to seem relevant with the lame rockabilly of I Will Rock And Roll With You, (Little did he know, however, that punkers to metal heads would be bowing down at his feet just a few short decades later). Johnny and his daughters singing Silent Night ties this special up quite nicely. Ah, you can never take all the homey Nashville out of rooted country singers like Johnny Cash, and this special is living proof of that.