These late-1970s Christmas specials capture Johnny at a high point in the run-up to his Country Music Hall of Fame election in 1980. Whether he is performing in the intimacy of his Nashville home or on a large soundstage, the elements of his success are here in abundance. This 4-DVD set spanning 4 years of Johnny Cash Christmas Specials from 1976-1979 includes over 60 performances! Special guests include June Carter Cash, Ray Cash, Roy Cash, Roy Clark, Rita Coolidge, Tom T. Hall, Andy Kaufman, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Barbara Mandrell, Steve Martin, Anne Murray, Roy Orbison, Tony Orlando, Carl Perkins, Statler Brothers, Billy Graham, and Merle Travis.
For his 1978 Christmas special, the third in as many years, Cash moved the usually Tennessee-based taping to Los Angeles, and, unsurprisingly, the program takes on a Hollywood feel. Guests include Kris Kristofferson and singer Rita Coolidge, both friends of the Cash family, who perform a heartfelt "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends," and Steve Martin, one of America's hottest new comics at the time. June Carter Cash, as always, performs with her husband, and other family members make appearances in this special as well.
For the 1979 broadcast, Cash's annual CBS Christmas special returns to Nashville for a program featuring his father, Ray Cash, and his older brother, Roy Cash, in a visit to the small home in Dyess, Arkansas, where Johnny and his siblings were raised. Guests include Canadian pop and country star Anne Murray ("You Needed Me"), who was enjoying the most successful period of her career, and country music's Tom T. Hall, whom Cash introduces as "my very favorite songwriter" before Cash and Hall launch into a medley of Hall's hits "(Old Dogs, Children And) Watermelon Wine," "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died," "I Love" and "Country Is." The show's comic foil is the late Andy Kaufman, who appears as his character Latka Gravas from the hit network show Taxi.
The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials 1976-1979 4-DVD box set includes these two discs as well as the special from 1976 and 1977, previously released on DVD in 2007 by Shout! Factory. Taped from the family homes in Bon Aqua and Hendersonville, Tennessee, The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1976 featured special guests Roy Clark, Merle Travis, Barbara Mandrell, Tony Orlando and Billy Graham. The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1977 includes an all-star tribute to Elvis Presley with Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, a selection of Christmas songs, as well as Perkins's "Blue Suede Shoes," Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman, and Lewis's 1957 Sun smash Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On.