Johnny Cash’s imposing presence fills the room in this 1981 music video for “The Baron,” which co-stars his wife, June Carter Cash, and future son-in-law Marty Stuart. It’s one of those music videos that lets the story unfold in its own time, so listen closely.
“The Baron” proved to be Johnny Cash’s 51st and final Top 10 hit, until his resurgence with The Highwaymen in 1985. He’d go on to film several other memorable clips, including the peculiar “Chicken in Black” and the devastating “Hurt,” but “The Baron” holds up for its full-circle narrative, composed by Paul Richey, Billy Sherrill, and Jerry Taylor.
As it’s explained in this 2003 story, CMT.com contributor Edward Morris wrote: “The Man in Black’s first concept video came with the picturization of his 1981 hit, ’The Baron.’ In both the song and video, ’The Baron’ is a wise and elegantly attired pool shark who teaches Billy Joe, a rising young hustler, how the game is really played.
“After he’s taken the upstart’s last dime, the desperate Billy Joe bets his last possession of value, his mother’s gold wedding ring. Instantly, the Baron recognizes the ring as the one he gave his wife years ago before he abandoned her. That’s it! Game called on account of tears. An ideally cast Marty Stuart plays the role of Billy Joe. (In 1984, the video evolved into a made-for-TV movie, The Baron and the Kid.)”