It’s interesting to me how musicians that spent a good portion of their career hated by the critics suddenly get critical praise of their entire career…especially once they die. Johnny Cash, hated throughout the majority of his career, found critical acclaim at the end of his life, and now is regarded as a true giant of the music world by all. Too bad most people didn’t see it throughout the bulk of his life.
While it’s too bad that a good amount of “fans” discovered The Man In Black when he covered Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, the truth is that he was one of the innovators of the history of country music. Cash, with his deep, ballsy voice and his real-world tales of woe and anguish, exemplified what was going on in Country Music for years. Songs like “I Walk The Line” or “Folsom Prison Blues” leave you feeling depressed at the end of them. The desperation of “I Walk The Line” shines through as he battles through behaving simply to keep the girl. He wasn’t solely a depressive vocalist though, and many of his more uplifting songs are here as well. “Get Rhythm” is a fine example of a positive outlook. Cash just had a knack for strumming both heartstrings as well as guitarstrings.
While Cash’s songs were deep-rooted in emotion, he also built a very successful collection of duets up throughout his career. Many of them are represented on The Legend Of Johnny Cash. “Jackson”, with the love of his life June Carter, was a rollicking fun song that was, more than likely, completely reality based. Other interesting duets of note here are “The Wanderer”, which features U2 and “The Highwayman”, which features Cash with Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings.
RATING – 9/10 – Let’s face it – it would be pretty hard to mess this collection up. Everything the casual fan would want to hear is on The Legend Of Johnny Cash. If you are just discovering him from the new movie or the Nine Inch Nails cover (which is on this collection), then you will love this release. Johnny Cash – Legend, indeed.