Johnny Cash Documentary: 10 Things We Learned From ‘The Gift’

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On November 11th, YouTube Originals will begin streaming the documentary film The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash, a 90-minute film directed by Emmy- and Grammy-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny (Elvis Presley: The Searcher, Springsteen on Broadway) that features commentary from Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, and members of the Cash family, including daughter Rosanne Cash and son John Carter Cash. (An original score to the film, composed by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, mixes the guitarist’s music with some of those interviews.)

The movie’s deeply spiritual centerpieces are the lingering effects that the 1944 accidental death of Cash’s 14-year-old brother Jack had on Johnny, who was 12 at the time, and the historic 1968 Folsom Prison concert recordings that gave Cash a renewed understanding of his place and purpose in the world. Through these life-changing events, the themes of sin and salvation are connected to Cash’s experience of success, excess, and, ultimately, redemption. “You always got the feeling that my dad was trying to get away from pain,” says Rosanne Cash. “He worked out his deepest problems on the stage, with an audience.”

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