Chuck Talks About Meeting Johnny
I actually had the privilege of shaking Mr. Cash’s hand and exchanging a few pleasantries with him and wife, June Carter Cash. The place was New York’s Lone Star Café during one of my band Wheatstraw’s many weekend engagements at what had become a legendary music room in the Big Apple.
As we finished a set, my manager waved me over and said he wanted me to meet someone. We headed up the stairs to the balcony that overlooked the stage. As we approached the center table, I could tell even from his silhouette, even from behind, that we were coming upon the Man In Black.
My manager reached the table first and reintroduced himself. Johnny Cash rose and turned to greet me, and I went short of breath for a moment. It was like meeting a presence straight off the face of Mt. Rushmore. The man’s sheer gravitas was palpable. He spoke with the courtesy of a southern gentleman. He complimented the band, introduced me to wife June and daughter Carlene, asked how it was going and wished me well. The whole encounter took maybe three minutes. But those three minutes remain indelible. What an amazingly cool guy.
To state the obvious, I could never sound like Johnny Cash. But this song, written to his first wife, was one that I felt would meet my criteria for a “twisted cover”. Slow it down, change the key from major to minor– that seemed to bring another personality to the narrator. Rather than affirming his love and devotion, he seems desperate about it. Like it may not be so solid after all. It reveals some “dark inside the light…”
A stunningly reworked cover of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" is like hearing the song for the first time. Chuck uses a great cast of musicians throughout and this album is a welcome breath of fresh air for listeners who crave lasting quality above fickle trends.
Steve Morse– longtime Boston Globe Music Critic, Professor of Rock History at Berklee College of Music
I don't usually like to introduce an artist with a cover song, especially if it's a song that's just iconic and you think, the artist is never going to approach the original. But he's done it! It stunned me. Here's Chuck McDermott covering Johnny Cash, and... I Walk the Line.
Perry Persoff– DJ WUMB Radio