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The Film “Walk the Line” and the Role of Music in It Analytical Essay


The “Walk the Line” comprises of Johnny Cash and June Carter as the main characters. Johnny Cash was born in Arkansas to Ray Cash and Carrie Cash and developed musical interest during his childhood (Hockfield, 72). He sang together with his family while working in their cotton fields.

This exposure and the hardships he experienced inspired him to become a musician. His dream started to grow after joining the air force where he bought a guitar and started composing his music. While in the air force, he got engaged to Vivian Liberto. After their marriage, they moved and settled in Tennessee with their daughter, Rosanne Cash.

Here, Jonny hooked up with Sun Records and begun recording his songs together with his band. With the assistance of Sam Philips, owner of Sun records, they recorded the song, “Folsom Prisons Blues.” Johnny Cash and his band started touring and got to interact with many different artists including June Carter. Thereafter, Johnny and June went on most of the tours together and strong love developed between them. However, Johnny’s attempts to woo June failed, and this prompted him to indulge in drugs.

June backed out of his tours because of this behavior. Later on, Johnny persuaded June to accompany him again at an award show. The tour turned out to be a success as they reconciled. This was a blow to his marriage to Vivian. It led to a conflict that ended up in a divorce. Johnny moved to Hendersonville to be close to June (Karlyn, 152).

Johnny Cash had a great love for prisoners. This was triggered by his interaction with them during his various arrests due to drug possession. As a result, he performed various concerts in prisons such as the Folsom prison. His continued efforts to pursue June was a success in one of the concerts as June agreed to his proposal while they were on stage.

They married and lived together. They raised their children together till their death. In this movie, Johnny Cash’s character is played by Joaquin Phoenix. Robert Patrick and Shelby Lynne pose as Johnny Cash’s parents. Like his father, Rosanne Cash grew to become a country music artist. She is Johnny Cash’s first and eldest daughter of his first wife, Vivian. Ginnifer Goodwin plays the role of Vivian Liberto, and Hailey Anne Nelson represents Rosanne Cash in this movie (Keating, 117).

Relative to June Carter, she was born in Virginia to Ezra Carter and Maybelle Carter. The Carter family was renowned in the country music genre, and June started singing with their family at the age of ten. After the end of their WBT (a radio station in Carolina) contract, they formed Maybelle and Carter Sister’s group. This group comprised of her mother and her two sisters. It was the first group to be aired on Virginia’s radio station (WRNL).

June had a successful music career both as a solo artist and in group performances. This was both with her family and her husband, Johnny Cash when she got married. Like her family, she was also known for her country music like the “Jukebox Blues of 1950s.” She got married thrice: to Carl, Smith, and before settling with Johnny Cash. She had one child in each marriage. Reese Witherspoon takes the role June Carter in this movie.

With respect to Sam Philips depicted by Dallas Roberts, he is a record producer well known from the foundation of Sun Records and Studio in Tennessee. Through the Sun Records, he discovered and developed recording talents amongst many artists including Johnny Cash. His experience with singing workers in the farms during his childhood inspired him to music.

This is attributed to the fact that Philip was born to tenant farmers. As far as Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, they were the backing duo of Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Two bands. Perkins was the electric guitarist whereas Grant was a bass guitarist. The band later came to be known as Tennessee Three with the inclusion of drummer, Fluke Holland. In the movie, Luther Perkin was represented by Dan Jon Miller, Marshall Grant by Larry Bagby, and Fluke Holland by Clay Steakley.

With regard to country music, it is a music genre that is widely recognized in America. This genre of music begun in 1920s from Southern American rural areas (Huber, 43). Usually, it comprised of dance tunes and ballads accompanied with musical instruments such as guitars, harmonicas, banjos.

This movie highly portrays this music genre. Johnny Cash and June Cater are portrayed as great country music artists. Cash took most of his performances in prisons, and this is attributed to his compassion for inmates. Music has a great impact on the lives of both musicians and listeners. The majority of music is composed based on the artist’s personal experience or common issues that affect the society.

Country music has helped in improving the welfare of people by sanitizing the issues affecting them (Sandke, 94). In the movie, Johnny Cash is seen presenting most of his performances in prisons. This is aimed at improving the moral behavior of prisoners. Cash has experienced prison life. Therefore, he is best suited to address issues concerning prisoners (Brabazon, 132).

Works Cited

Brabazon, Tara. Thinking Popular Culture: War, Terrorism and Writing. Farnham: Ashgate, 2008. Print.

Hockfield, Victoria. Comparing the Movie, Walk the Line, to the Real Life Story of Johnny Cash. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2011. Print.

Huber, Patrick. Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South. Chapel Hill: Univ. Of North Carolina Press, 2008. Print.

Karlyn, Kathleen R. Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen. Austin: Univ. Of Texas Press, 2010. Print.

Keating, Bernie. Music: Then and Now. S.l.: Authorhouse, 2011. Print.

Sandke, Randy. Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet: Race and the Mythology, Politics, and Business of Jazz. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 7). The Film "Walk the Line" and the Role of Music in It. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/walk-the-line/

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"The Film "Walk the Line" and the Role of Music in It." IvyPanda, 7 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/walk-the-line/.

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IvyPanda. "The Film "Walk the Line" and the Role of Music in It." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/walk-the-line/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Film "Walk the Line" and the Role of Music in It." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/walk-the-line/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Film "Walk the Line" and the Role of Music in It'. 7 May.

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