Johnny Cash’s never-heard message to the marginalized in hippie San Francisco

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Thursday, August 26, 2021

On its surface Johnny Cash’s visit to the heart of hippie San Francisco in April 1968 might have seemed unexpected, but with a rare performance of “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes” the deep kinship between performer and audience that evening comes into full focus. Telling the tale of the famed Native American war hero at Iwo Jima, who gave everything to his country and received nothing in return, “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes” is the ultimate song for the systematically oppressed, the underserved, the overlooked and marginalized; an anthem for those who, with another war raging, felt disillusioned with their country all over again. In conjunction with legendary live records of the era, including At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin, “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes” cements At The Carousel Ballroom as a wholly unique example of Cash’s ability to give voice to the downtrodden and voiceless.

Listen to this live version of “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes,” released today to commemorate the 79th anniversary of Ira Hayes first enlisting in the United States Marine Corps on August 26, 1942, and read more via Garden & Gun:
Recorded by innovative sound wizard Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the entirety of this historic concert will be available for the first time on October 29 as ‘Bear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash, At The Carousel Ballroom, April 24, 1968’ from the Owsley Stanley Foundation and Renew Records/BMG. Considered a sonic pioneer and unconventional genius, Stanley’s mix captures Cash’s unadorned voice entirely on the right channel and the Tennessee Three all on the left; setting the listener right between Johnny and his band as if they were center stage at the Carousel. It’s been deemed "probably the closest to what it actually sounded like to be in the audience for a Johnny Cash show in 1968” and proves once again why the avant garde techniques of Stanley (also the architect of The Grateful Dead's "Wall of Sound”) are accepted as gospel today.

At The Carousel Ballroom will be released widely on all digital formats by Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, on October 29. It will also be available on CD/2LP from Renew Records/BMG with new essays by Johnny and June Carter Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Starfinder Stanley, The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, as well as new art by Susan Archie, and a reproduction of the original Carousel Ballroom concert poster by Steve Catron. This release marks the latest entry in the Owsley Stanley Foundation’s ‘Bear’s Sonic Journals’ series, which has previously included Stanley’s live recordings of The Allman Brothers Band, Tim Buckley, Doc & Merle Watson and many more.


1. Cocaine Blues
2. Long Black Veil
3. Orange Blossom Special (CD and Digital only)
4. Going to Memphis
5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes
6. Rock Island Line
7. Guess Things Happen That Way
8. One Too Many Mornings
9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
10. Give My Love to Rose
11. Green, Green Grass of Home
12. Old Apache Squaw
13. Lorena
14. Forty Shades of Green
15. Bad News
16. Jackson
17. Tall Lover Man
18. June's Song Introduction
19. Wildwood Flower
20. Foggy Mountain Top
21. This Land Is Your Land
22. Wabash Cannonball
23. Worried Man Blues
24. Long Legged Guitar Pickin' Man
25. Ring of Fire
26. Big River
27. Don't Take Your Guns to Town
28. I Walk the Line