While ‘The Unclouded Day’ might be an obscure late 19th-century hymn, the song held significant importance to the late Johnny Cash. For Cash, whose genre-spanning career remains one of the most influential in music history, ‘The Unclouded Day’ became the first song he ever performed in public when he was just 12-years-old and, accompanied by his mother on the piano, he would re-create the performance decades later.
Religion and hymns were a vital part of Cash’s upbringing and, even throughout his battles with substance abuse, his devotion to God never wavered. His relationship with Christianity began a week after the tragic accidental death of his older brother, Jack, an incident which led to Cash to turn to faith. The musician accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour at the First Baptist Church in Dyess, Arkansas, and his family continued to attend three days a week from that moment.
It would be at that very same church in Arkansas where Cash would make his debut stage performance, under the name of J.R. and joined by his mother Carrie Cash on piano. The performance, one that obviously meant the world to him, came at a difficult point in his life following the tragedy that had struck his family unit. The opportunity to perform with his mother, it would seem, strengthened their bond as they shared that precious moment together.
The next time the mother and son duo would go on to perform the poignant hymn would be to a slightly larger crowd, to say the very least. Joining forces creatively once again, Johnny and Carrie would broadcast their duet to the nation in 1970 as part of The Johnny Cash Show at a time when Cash had become one of the biggest country stars on the planet.
Just three days following Mother’s Day, the performance arrived as the finale of a series of and this edition was titled ‘Headliners: Country and Western Greats’ which featured Marty Robbins, Tex Ritter and Roy Acuff. However, it was the 66-year-old Carrie Cash who was the real star the show when she shared the stage with her son for a heartfelt moment which illustrated the pair’s tight-knit bond.
Cash clearly adored every moment of their duet on the ABC programme because if you listen closely when the audience applauds, you can hear him say to his mother: “That was perfect.”
Check out the beautiful footage of their duet, below.