JOHNNY CASH (1932-2003)
Hy heroes have always been cowboys, or at least Country Music pickers who played them on TV and in the movies. I heard a ton of Johnny Cash growing up in the family ranch house on the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson, Arizona.
I had the chance to see the "Man in Black" play live two times. The first was his historic tour with the Highwaymen - Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristoferson. I saw that show at the long-demolished Sun Dome in Sun City, Arizona. The other was a tour with his wife June Carter and her sisters, the Carter Sisters, and their son, John Carter Cash, a tremendous artist in his own right.
When I perform live, I frequently play a Cash song or two.
The crowd loves them, and so do I. I enjoy keeping them alive, breathing life into them here and there, keeping them rolling on for future generations.
Because I have been asked a lot, I have come up with a Top 10 Amazon list of Johnny Cash stuff I like. Its mostly music, but there's a book, a guitar and a cool vinyl recommendation. Whether you are an existing Cash fan, or someone looking to add to your collection, check it out.
If you have a Cash recommendation for me, or have a comment about this post, I would like to hear from you. To contact me, please use this form.
My Top 10 Amazon Johnny Cash list:
1. The Essential Johnny Cash on CD. I have certain things on CD's. My Johnny Cash collection is one of those things. I don't leave his music to the will of online digital platforms. I like to have my own access, regardless of any other factors. That's why I own this on CD. Plus, my car has a CD player which I leave it in most of the time when I don't feel like messing with my iPhone. A short drive to the store, I just play Ring of Fire. Here's another best of Johnny Cash CD I can recommend, for your music collection.
2. Live at Folsom Prison on CD. Much like my #1 recommendation, having this special Cash recording on CD will make sure you can pass it on to your great, great grandchildren. Not just an amazing live recording, but true Country Music history being made. And it was being made outside Nashville...all the way out in California.
3. "Cash," Johnny Cash's definitive autobiography written by Johnny Cash himself. This is one of my favorite Country Music books. Johnny Cash talks about everything from touring to stage fright, to the Rick Ruben sessions, to the way he loved how Elvis played acoustic guitar. If you want to know more about the man, and how he thought, check this book out. A solid choice.
4. The Total Johnny Cash Sun Collection, 1957-1964. These are the recordings that launched his career. The were recorded by Sun Records in Memphis, where Elvis, Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins all started their recording career. These recordings are were you hear the development of Cash's distinctive "train" sound.
5. American IV: The Man Comes Around. One of the master recordings of the Rick Ruben produced series. In the last decade of his life, Cash paired with the great Rock producer Rick Ruben to create a series of recordings. All are spectacular and must haves, but this one is particularly good.
6. Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The first Columbia produced Greatest Hits collection, and a very good basket of early to mid career Cash. I like the production and it incapsulates a period in his recording history that is critically important.
7. The Very Best of the Highwaymen. If you have never heard this super group, you are missing out. Listeners of Country, Americana, or any other types of roots music will dig this album. Four of the best Country legends covering substantial songs worthy of their attention. If you like the Highwaymen, also check out this excellent Legacy recording of the group live.
8. Gospel Music of Johnny Cash. Growing up I listened to as much Gospel Johnny Cash, as I heard Country Music Johnny Cash. This man's take on the Gospel classics can make you feel like God himself is singing to you. I guess in many way, that's Cash's gift, his vocal authority. The Cash Commandment.
9. The Legend of Johnny Cash Double Vinyl. For the vinyl fans, grab this double LP. A perfect Cash collection for your travel record player collection or home listening room. Includes the Ruben produced, and now infamous cover, of the song, "Hurt."
10. Black Martin Acoustic Guitar. For any Johnny Cash fan, a black Martin Acoustic Guitar is the way to go. While you can't find, or can rarely find, except at high-end second-hand shops or on the auction market, the signature guitar Martin produced for Johnny Cash in the 1990's...you can get this affordable, BLACK Martin DXAE Dreadnought guitar, which is a perfect way to pick your favorite Cash songs at home.
Here's some more information on Johnny Cash from Wikipedia.com, the Internet's FREE encyclopedia:
John R. Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice; the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, which is characterized by train-sound guitar rhythms; a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor; free prison concerts; and a trademark, all-black stage wardrobe, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black."He traditionally began his concerts by simply introducing himself, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash,"followed by his signature song "Folsom Prison Blues".
Much of Cash's music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. His other signature songs include "I Walk the Line", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm", and "Man in Black". He also recorded humorous numbers like "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue"; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called "Jackson" (followed by many further duets after their marriage); and railroad songs including "Hey, Porter", "Orange Blossom Special", and "Rock Island Line". During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, notably "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode.