18 July 2008


I’ve never been a huge fan of most country music. However, there are occasional country musicians that, for what ever reason, have struck a cord with me. Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle (though he verges on Rock) , Willie Nelson, K. D. Lang (mostly her torch songs), and a few others.

Then there is the man who, while always listed as country, is so legendary that he transcends classification. Of course, I’m referring to The Man In Black, Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash was born in 1932, and began his recording career in1955. Once he started, he never stopped, recording more than 70 albums over the course of the next 48 years.

The last half-dozen of his releases were produced by Rick Rubin for his American Records. Johnny signed with Rubin in 1993, after being dropped from Columbia Records. In preparation for his first Rubin-produced album, he recorded several demos in Rubin’s living room. That’s where most of these are from. A few others come from later sessions. All are available on the bootlegs American Outtakes and More American Outtakes.

A note on the image - when the American records came out, the country music industry pretty much shunned them. They got virtually no airplay, and the critics barely acknowledged they existed. After winning a Grammy for best country album, Johnny and Rick took out this ad in Billboard Magazine, using an image from Johnny’s wilder days.

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Johnny Cash with Billy Gibbons - “I Witnessed A Crime”
Johnny Cash - “The Next Time I’m In Town”
Johnny Cash - “To Beat the Devil”
Johnny Cash - “Friends in California”
Johnny Cash - “Bad News”
Johnny Cash - “Don’t Sell Daddy Any More Whiskey”
Johnny Cash - “I Changed the Lock”

Johnny Cash’s American discography (hey, I don’t have the room for 70+ albums)

American Recordings, 1994 (buy)
American II: Unchained, 1996 (buy)
American III: Solitary Man, 2000 (buy)
American IV: The Man Comes Around, 2002 (buy)
Unearthed, 2003 (buy) (Box Set)
My Mother’s Hymn Book, 2004 (buy) (also issued on Unearthed)
Live at Montreux, 2005 (buy) (live DVD recorded in 1994)
American V: A Hundred Highways, 2006 (buy)


bob said...

thank you. i must say you have one of the best blogs around..

DeadBilly said...

Thank you for the complement.

Cara said...

You write very well.