I’ll just come out and say it: I have an obsession with the relationship of June Carter and Johnny Cash. They were beautiful and they made beautiful music–what more could anyone really want out of a relationship? I suppose we could consider this article my coming out of the closet as a hopeless romantic. My friends know I’m a huge Debbie Downer when it comes to matters of the heart (I’ll spare you the pathetic psychology behind the effect of my parents’ divorce on my outlook on relationships–it’s a sob story for another day, or for never). But despite my vibes as a romance-hating bitch, I still smile every time I see a happy older couple. I still watch the Titanic every time it’s on. And my biggest Achilles heel in this category just might be the love story of June Carter and Johnny Cash.
If you spend enough time on Thought Catalog, Elite Daily, Buzzfeed, etc, you’ve read your share of reasons why chivalry is dead, Generation Y men don’t respect women, whatever it is that girls who choose to date assholes are whining about today. There’s occasional truth to those arguments, but I’m a feminist through and through, so I tend to resent the lists demanding that men return to the “old fashioned ways” of running to hold doors for women, paying for everything, and walking on the outside of the sidewalk. It’s 2014. I can hold my own door. Manners are great, sure, but don’t expect equal rights for women one day and be insulted the next when a guy doesn’t text you first. The times are changing, ladies, you have to give and take a little. But I digress–my ultimate point in the feminist rant was that even though they lived in the last century, Johnny and June knew romance, and not the patronizing kind. If you insist that chivalry is dead now, fine, but it was anything but dead between Johnny and June.
I know they had their issues. I’m aware of Johnny’s addiction problems and that he left his first wife for June. I’m sure someone will call me out on the hypocrisy of my mini feminist lecture when June put her own career aside for him. I say these things because I don’t want this to be taken too seriously–as with any relationship, nobody knows what truly went on between Johnny and June except Johnny and June. But from a starry-eyed outside perspective, here are a few of my favorite quotes of theirs from which I think we can all learn a little bit about love. And next time you’re feeling cynical, take the time to read Johnny’s letters in their entirety. I lose my breath every time, and that’s saying a lot.
“We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate me and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.” – Johnny
“You’ve got a way with words and a way with me as well. The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.” – Johnny
“He’s just like my father that way-my father just adored my mother and let her do whatever she wanted. John’s like that. He’s a very rare man, a very good man, and I’ve had a good life with him. I’m proud to be walking in the wake of Johnny’s fame.” -June
“I chose to be Mrs. Johnny Cash in my life. I decided I’d allow him to be Moses and I’d be Moses’ brother Aaron, picking his arms up and padding along behind him.” -June
“Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, I got on my knees and told her that I was going to marry her some day. We were both married to someone else at the time. ‘Ring Of Fire’—June and Merle Kilgore wrote that song for me-that’s the way our love affair was. We fell madly in love and we worked together all the time, toured together all the time, and when the tour was over we both had to go home to other people. It hurt.” -Johnny
“There’s unconditional love there. You hear that phrase a lot but it’s real with me and her [June Carter]. She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself. She has saved my life more than once. She’s always been there with her love, and it has certainly made me forget the pain for a long time, many times. When it gets dark and everybody’s gone home and the lights are turned off, it’s just me and her.” -Johnny