I Was There When It Happened

A gritty look at the life of Johnny Cash from a member of the Memphis Two

Marshall Grant, the sole surviving founding member of Johnny Cash’s original backing band the Tennessee Two, took the title of his book from a hymn the group frequently performed in their early days (memorably depicted in the Walk the Line biopic). Grant walks us through his time with Cash from the early years through the turbulent ’70s, when their relationship soured, and finally to their reconciliation in the ’90s. The book benefits from a laconic, conversational pace, making the reader feel like he’s sitting on a porch in Memphis sipping sweet tea with an old friend. The book is filled with anecdotes that are alternately hilarious and horrifying, and Grant isn’t shy about discussing the darker side of Cash’s battles with drugs. If you’re a new fan who wants to learn more about the Man in Black, you’re better off picking up Cash’s self-titled autobiography; but if you’re a Cash fanatic who isn’t afraid of reading a grittier view of the legend from someone who was there when it happened, this book is worth a read.