Several months ago, I was in a restaurant/bar here in Nashville, and in the mens room, in one of those Graffiti Advertising displays, was a curious ad. It had a photo of a burning house and the text, “Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down.” It was completely perplexing, and when I walked out, I immediately told my companions what a weird thing I just saw. I even rolled it around in my head on the way home, alternating between laughter, confusion and indignation. Which is exactly what Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, and the folks at Curb Records, wanted me to do.
Everything made sense yesterday, Wednesday, July 8, when Larry, Rudy and Steve came by the NPT offices to play us some tunes from their new album, Pilgrimage, including the new single, “Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down.” For Larry and his brothers, the album is a return, after a 16-year absence, to the Nashville recording and songwriting scene. Its title is a nod to Gatlin’s first album, The Pilgrim, which debuted in 1974.
NPT staff gathered in the reception area for the afternoon performance, where we not only got several songs from the guys, but stories by Larry about his long and close relationship with Johnny Cash.
When they were finishing up, there was even a moment of Gatlin/NPT/Carter family synergy. There’s a poster in our lobby from our film, The Carter Family: An American Original. While admiring the poster, Larry and Rudy realized that Mother Maybelle’s guitar in the historic photo was the same guitar John Carter Cash took out for the guys to play when recording the new record. Rudy even had a picture of the guitar on his cell phone.
It was a great afternoon and we’re thankful to the guys for coming by. Pilgrimage hits stores on September 1.