It would be easy to make a documentary about Johnny Cash, June Carter and their careers and relationships, but instead, The Winding Stream chooses to focus on the roots of the Carters, starting with the seminal family act of A.P. Carter, his wife, Sara, and her sister, Maybelle. Through this lens, filmmaker Beth Harrington reveals an incredible story that strikes at the heart of country music and its preservation.
The film’s subject and focus are original and interesting, to say the least—thinking of Johnny Cash as Maybelle Carter’s son-in-law is certainly a new reference point. But the heart of the film centers around the appreciation for the roots of these artists’ legacies: the story, the struggle and most importantly, the survival. Interviews with surviving Carters and with Johnny Cash (filmed only weeks before his death) illustrate the influence that the original Carter Family had on their lives, as do performances of Carter Family material by artists such as John Prine, George Jones, Sheryl Crow and Kris Kristofferson.
As some of the first faces of recorded country music, the original Carter Family paved the way for many musicians, Carters and non-Carters alike, who continue to carry a torch that is far from being gone with the wind.
– Charley Raiff