HOT DISH: John Carter Cash Honors His Mama

A Book and Tribute Album Call Attention to June Carter Cash's Music

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel's Hot Dish: Cookin' With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

When Reese Witherspoon won an Academy Award for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in the blockbuster movie Walk the Line, she used one of June's favorite lines to thank the crowd by saying, "I'm just trying to matter."

Every time I see a print ad for his book, Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash , picturing June with her long, flowing hair and her smile and eyes a-twinkle, I think, "John Carter Cash is still making his mama matter."

Ever since the passing of his mama in May 2005, followed by his dad Johnny Cash in September, it seems to me that the only child of June and Johnny has been busy making mama matter. How proud that would have made June.

Keep in mind that it was John Carter who produced his mother's wonderful CD, Press On, which, I believe, was her first solo album. Interestingly enough, John Carter hired a pretty and talented fiddler, Laura Weber, to apply her craft to the project. Laura is now John Carter's wife and the mother of their children, Anna Maybelle and Ezra Carter. John Carter's oldest son, John, is by his first marriage.

Now, I haven't read John Carter's book, but I know a slew of fans showed up at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's gift shop to get copies autographed when he was there. I do look forward to getting the book and reading it as soon as I can get out and about.

The world hero-worshiped Johnny Cash. Tons of his music has been released since he passed away. He's been praised and lauded to the skies, and he deserves each sentence written about him.

In addition to his book, John Carter also honored his mother by producing Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash, a mighty fine all-star CD. Highlights include Loretta Lynn's lovely version of "Wildwood Flower" (from the Carter Family catalog) and Elvis Costello performing "Ring of Fire" (the song June co-wrote about her love for Johnny). And you can't overlook the sassy duet of "Jackson" featuring June's daughter, Carlene Carter, and Ronnie Dunn of the hitmaking duo Brooks & Dunn.

June gave up her own career to walk the line behind Johnny Cash, and John Carter Cash knows this better than anyone. I recall hearing his mama saying onstage, "I used to be somebody. I'd sing and dance and tell jokes like some of the rest of you do, but now I just follow along behind Johnny Cash." And how she would laugh.

With six daughters between them, June would always explain from the stage how many sons-in-law she and Johnny had. I can't remember how many there were, but she never forgot to point out Rodney Crowell (who was once married to Johnny's daughter, Rosanne) and Marty Stuart (who was previously married to Cindy, another of Johnny's daughters). And Rodney and Marty will always love June as she did them.

Jack Ingram Calls on the Fourth

I received a nice Fourth of July call from Jack Ingram, who was driving to Lubbock, Texas, to catch a plane for Oklahoma. Jack had solo gigs booked for four nights in a row and was planning to spend Sunday (July 8) with his wife and three kids.

When I answered the phone he said, "This is Jack Ingram. Thank God, you're OK!"

"I heard you're taping your TV show again," he added. He'd been by CMT and gotten the scoop that Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith is back in production following my recent illness.

"Guess who came to see us in Phoenix," he exclaimed. "Jessi Colter. She looks great. She looks like she did 20 years ago. I sang 'Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line' on the show." (You'll remember that Jessi was married to the late Waylon Jennings, who made the song famous.)

Jack told me his guitar player is from France, and when he moved to Nashville, it was Waylon who helped him out. He actually stayed at the Jennings' home and was friends with Shooter, Waylon and Jessi's son.

Before hanging up, Jack told me the family reunion he attended a while back in Galveston was super. "But hot and sandy," he added.

He ended the conversation by bragging on Brad Paisley's shows and the crowds they've been playing to during their current tour. It makes me feel good that he and Brad are buds. I do love those boys.

A Major Hitter Goes Home

Boots Randolph, country music's finest saxophonist, died Tuesday (July 3). The 80-year-old Boots will be remembered as a soloist, studio musician, entertainer and recording star who was well known for penning and recording "Yakety Sax."

However, he may be best known for his appearances with pals Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer when they performed at symphony orchestras across the nation. I enjoyed his many Hee Haw appearances with the Million Dollar Band that also included Atkins, Cramer, Roy Clark, Jethro Burns, Danny Davis, Johnny Gimble and Charlie McCoy.

No two ways about it, a major hitter has gone home. He was the best at what he did.

God Bless the USA

For 23 years, Lee Greenwood has performed his self-penned "God Bless the USA" at Fourth of July celebrations and various political events. This year, Greenwood celebrated the holiday in Florida by performing during the U.S. citizenship ceremony that took place at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. More than 1,000 immigrants from over 50 countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

Young Taylor Swift and the Nashville Symphony lit up Music City's Fourth of July celebration at Riverfront Park. This was Taylor's first-ever performance with an orchestra. Immediately after the concert, Taylor boarded her tour bus for more shows on Brad Paisley's Bonfires and Amplifiers tour.

Trent Tomlinson spent the holiday in the Windy City, where he performed from the pitcher's mound before the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox.

New Music Coming

"Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love," the new single by one of country's greatest female vocalists, Trisha Yearwood, will be delivered to radio stations by the end of July.

"Take Me There" is the first single from Rascal Flatts' new album, Still Feels Good, set for a Sept. 25 release.

A Final Word for the Week

By the time you read this, I will have completed the 30 days of radiology for my cancer treatment. I'd been doing that every Monday through Friday, so it'll be nice to have something else to do. Praise be!

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Pimiento Cheese.

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