Porter Wagoner is slated to perform tonight on Late Night with David Letterman. Porter, in his recognizable rhinestone suit is a true standard bearer for traditional country music. The same music that left Johnny Cash to waste away into obscurity before his resurrection under the direction of producer Rick Rubin. The same music that was quick to embrace Cash and benefit from his resurgence.
Assumably he'll perform the first single of his new Marty Stuart produced record, Wagonmaster. The single, Committed to Parkview, is a song written by Johnny Cash in the mid 70's. It first appeared on Cash's 1976 album, One Piece at a Time, and then later on the Highwaymen album as a duet with Willie Nelson. That's all background noise to the real story. Sometime in the mid 80's while Marty Stuart was touring as part Johnny Cash's band, Cash handed Stuart an envelope containing a cassette saying that he had a song for Porter Wagoner to record. The envelope was misplaced and not found until the summer of 2006 as
The song, written from the perspective of a ward in the old Nashville Parkview asylum, which both Cash and Wagoner were at one time, is as stark and bleak as the name suggests. The song derives its depth not only from the masterful lyrics of Johnny Cash, but also from Porter's seemingly detached narrative delivery. This album may very well do for Porter Wagoner, what the American series did for Johnny Cash; that is introduce an iconic star of country music to a new and younger audience. Whether it does or not, the song is haunting and should be appreciated by anyone with an affinity to any style of music.
Committed to Parkview (mp3)