Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Musical Couples: Richard & Mimi; Johnny & June; Bruce & Kelly

Richard & Mimi Fariña: Pack Up Your Sorrows


Johnny Cash & June Carter: Pack Up Your Sorrows


Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Pack Up Your Sorrows


"Pack Up Your Sorrows" is a lucky charm song for musical couples.

Richard Fariña's best -- and best-known -- composition, "Pack Up Your Sorrows" has been recorded by three sets of musical spouses: Fariña and his wife Mimi; Johnny Cash and June Carter; and Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis.

Richard Fariña was well-known in folk music circles when, in 1963, he married Mimi Baez (whose sisters are Joan Baez and Pauline Marden; the latter shares co-writing credit on "Pack Up Your Sorrows"). Fariña started as a prose writer, but his attention shifted to music after he married Carolyn Hester and befriended her harmonica player, Bob Dylan. Shortly after Fariña and Hester divorced, he married Mimi and the pair soon began writing and performing together. "Pack Up Your Sorrows" appears on their debut record, Celebrations for a Grey Day. The Fariña union came to a tragic and premature end, when Richard died in a motorcycle accident on April 30, 1966 -- Mimi's 21st birthday.

The romance of Johnny Cash and June Carter was legendary, even before it was adapted for the movie Walk the Line. They recorded "Sorrows" for their first album together, Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter, released in 1967, a year before they married. The backstory of the Carter/Cash relationship is apparent on the album's cover. Cash is skin and bones, the result of years of drug abuse, from which Carter famously rescued him.

Austin music supercouple Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison will celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary this year. They recorded "Pack Up Your Sorrows" for the Johnny Cash tribute album, Dressed in Black. Though Robison and Willis have frequently appeared on each other's records, they are now putting together their first full-length duet album, to be released later this year.

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