Willie Nelson at Johnny Cash Tribute (11/10/2003)


NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The late Johnny Cash — a pioneer of both country and rock music — was honored with a tribute featuring artists and performances as diverse and far-reaching as his own career.

Rosanne Cash opened Monday’s show at the Ryman Auditorium by singing her father’s song, “I Still Miss Someone.” It was the first of many Cash songs performed at the former home of the Grand Ole Opry by some of the most influential names in contemporary music.

Willie Nelson, George Jones and Kris Kristofferson sang “Big River,” and Travis Tritt performed a slow, bluesy version of “I Walk the Line.” Hank Williams Jr. sang “Ring of Fire.”

Sheryl Crow performed “Hurt,” a song about drug addiction that Cash recorded in 2002. The song, written by Trent Reznor of the rock group Nine Inch Nails, introduced Cash to a younger generation of fans.

“When he gave his voice to something, he dedicated his voice and his intellect,” Crow said.

Larry Gatlin performed a song he said he wrote the day Cash died, with lyrics that included the maudlin phrase “a man can’t live with a broken heart too long.” The song ends on the happy note that the man has joined his love in heaven and “now he’s got a heart and a brand new song.”

Actor Tim Robbins was master of ceremonies for the show, which was taped and will be broadcast at 8 p.m. EST Saturday on Country Music Television.

Cash died September 12 at age 71 of complications from diabetes.

His stepdaughter, singer Carlene Carter, said the family has struggled through a difficult year with the death of her mother, June Carter Cash, in May, followed soon after by Cash’s death. Last month, Carter Cash’s daughter died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“This is truly a tribute,” she said of the concert. “It’s a way for us to celebrate the music they brought to the world.”

Carter said her stepfather told her when she was young that it’s better to be one-of-a-kind than one of many.

“We’d sit on the bus from age 10 on up, and he’d teach me songs,” she said. “He really educated us about music.”

‘An oak tree in a garden of weeds’


Williams, Rock  

Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock duet at the Johnny Cash tribute concert.

Tickets were free and distributed by lottery. More than 2,000 people attended the show at the Ryman, which was built in 1892 for church revivals and is still known as the Mother Church of Country Music.

“I think that’s what he and June would have wanted,” said Cash’s great-niece Kellye Cash of the ticket giveaway.

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