With a backdrop of a banjo and guitar refrain, the couple sings their duet, “To June This Morning,” the music to which Kelly wrote as a teenager, inspired by the love letter Johnny had written to his wife June in 1970 when she was eight months pregnant with their son John Carter Cash.
In a behind-the-scenes video, Musgraves, 29, and Kelly tell the story of recording the song for John Carter’s album, Johnny Cash: Forever Words, after getting engaged and then filming its music video as newlyweds following their wedding in October 2017.
Not only was the music video memorable because it was filmed at Johnny and June’s house in Hendersonville, Tennessee, at Old Hickory Lake, but it was also kismet that Johnny and June’s love story would have new meaning for Kelly.
Kelly originally started composing the music for “To June This Morning” as a teenager 11 years before he was asked by John Carter to record the poem as a song for the Forever Words album. To record the final version of the song, Kelly brought his then-fiancée Musgraves on board.
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“[John Carter] approaches me and asked me if I would like to try out a song. I was like, ‘Well that’s kind of interesting, 11 years ago, I put music to one of your dad’s poems.’ I was messing around with it and realized Kacey … when I met her, I was in a very strange, dark spot. And she definitely brought the light out in me. So I felt a new, special connection to the classic love story of Johnny and June,” Kelly says in a video courtesy Legacy Recordings/Sony Music Entertainment.
“This is really special because it’s a poem that Johnny wrote June. It’s really cool — especially considering we had just gotten engaged — to think about the love that Johnny and June had for each other and putting that and how we feel about each other, just made it more special,” Musgraves shares.
“We were newly engaged when we first recorded the song and then finishing the project and doing the video when we’re officially married, it’s just cool to honor two iconic lovebirds in that way together,” she explains.
Johnny Cash: Forever Words is an album comprised of hundreds of Johnny’s newly discovered writings that were transformed into musical dedications and tributes by Musgraves and Kelly as well as Chris Cornell, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss.
After Johnny’s death in 2003, his son John Carter combed through the archives and chose the best poems, letters and unfinished lyrics before reaching out to artists individually.