RESPECT YOUR ROOTS: Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash

Many years ago, we were honored when we were called by Woody Guthrie‘s family. They asked if we would like to put any of Woody’s unused lyrics to music. A short group of lyrics caught our eye – it contained the phrase, ‘I’m shipping up to Boston.

We sang Woody’s words over some music we already had written, and the song ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ came to life. Suddenly, we had collaborated with one of our idols – years after he had passed away. We are grateful to Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie and the estate for giving us the ball. That song had a big effect on our lives – and, we hope we’ve had a small part in exposing a younger generation to Woody’s important work.

On our new album, we are equally grateful to the June Carter Cash estate. They blessed our use of June’s ‘Ring of Fire’ melody in the bagpipe line of our new song ‘Blood.’ June felt that being around Johnny Cash, and his struggle with substance abuse, was like being in a “ring of fire.”

As we were writing our new album, that story of the inspiration of ‘Ring of Fire’ fit into the heart of what we were writing about – the modern day opiate epidemic that we come face to face with in Boston every day. We are so lucky to have artists like these to look up to – they have shaped our musical tastes, and it’s nice to be able to pay homage to them in song. Woody was Johnny’s idol – and he’s one of ours as well. Johnny and June are huge influences to us too. All three of them stood up for people in their music and in their personal lives.