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Johnny Cash - SXSW 1994 Keynote Address

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Uploaded on Aug 5, 2009

VIDEO COURTESY OF TIM HAMBLIN

Flashback to 1994. Where were you on March 17? That was the day the man in black came to SXSW to serve as keynote speaker and blow us all away with a mesmerizing set at Emo's. Yes, Johnny Cash played Emo's... on the same bill as Beck... who was then largely unknown.

But I digress... I feel fortunate to introduce this keynote clip. I feel even more fortunate to have been there. (Yes, that's me standing next to him looking like a total doof in the press shots. He was surrounded by men, decided that wasn't right and said, "I need some girls here" and grabbed then music booker Annie McReynolds and me to stand beside him. Talk about being in a magical place at a magical time.)

It's amazing to see Mr. Cash come to life, sharing stories, singing songs. He was a sweet and generous man and of the hundreds of highlights throughout the history of SXSW, this one stands the test of time and shows what a consummate performer and funny man he was. We were all dazzled and charmed.

Cash's SXSW performance at Emo's was a precursor to the April release of American Recordings, his first collaboration with producer Rick Rubin. You'll see snippets of songs from the album in this clip. The record revitalized Cash's career and included a new version of "Delia's Gone" and a soulful reworking of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" alongside the Glenn Danzig penned "Thirteen."

I'm thrilled they dug this clip out of the video vault. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash...

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