50 Greatest City, State, And Town Songs – #9: “Jackson” by Johnny and June Carter Cash
“Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
Album: “Carryin’ On With Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash”
Chart Peak: #2
City, State, or Town: Jackson, Mississippi (although many believe it to be Jackson, Tennessee)
There have been few great duo in country music who have expressed the power and partnership that came with the man in black and his second love of his life. Johnny and June are one of the most influential pair to have ever hit music in general, let alone the country genre. In the late 60s they recorded a duets project containing their most popular collaboration to date, “Jackson”. Although many believe it to be written based on the city in Tennessee, sources indicate the song more likely refers to the southern city in Mississippi and has a married couple who have lost their lust for the relationship and hope to lose those nativities in a long awaited trip to Jackson city. In true Cash style, this song tells a story and tells it well.
Johnny and June shift lead vocals back and forth as a man and a woman, apparently married, who are suffering from a setback in their relationship. It begins with both of them singing together, as the husband and wife telling the story at the same time to start, explaining how when they were first married their love was hotter than ever. They also reveal that during the duration of their marriage they’ve been thinking about going to Jackson for some time now. immediately after these lines Johnny bring in the feel of conflict between his and June’s characters as he reveals he’s going to Jackson to mess around. In fact he even blindly warns the “town” to watch out because he’s coming. As a response June takes over for the second verse. She tells Johnny to go right on ahead and wreck his health and reputation in the big city revealing she couldn’t care less. John retaliates with an ego only to get the same response.
The conflict between the two continues to boil and become slightly more comical. Johnny’s ego rises even more as he begins to brag about his own persona and ability as a man. He tells June when he goes into Jackson that everyone will bow to him and treat him with king-like royalty. He even goes so far as to try and get a reaction from June’s character by saying he’ll be teaching countless woman how to get it done with a man. Again June shows no real terror or holding back as a result and retaliates again. He shoots Johnny down by saying that he’ll never make it that popular. She’s confident that in the end he’ll come crying back to her in her Jaypen Fan. All the while she’ll be enjoying her time alone.
The song concludes where it began with both halves of the couple teaming up to tell how, now, they’re both going to Jackson to enjoy themselves. Apparently the couple, after a comical and heated compatition, have decided that the city would allow both of them the oppertunity they need to rid themselves of whatever has caused the fire to burn out between them. What adds to this song is that John and June are one of the most famous couples to ever hit country music. They are able to sing as partners and lovers, making the song that much more believable and enjoyable.
The magic behind this song is that it does put two people who were, at the time, in a rocky stage of their relationship together into a duet that complimented not only their connection to each other as artists, but as individuals as well. The two were in love, more than either could comprehend at the time, which made the situation quite an enjoyable experience for them and fans. It can be said that it’s like the two really were in the heat of the events occurring in the song and that Johnny’s tough persona and ego was clashing with June’s confidence and feminine charm on him in their bumpy love circle that eventually made them country music’s signature couple.