"Folsom Prison Blues", "Daddy Sang Bass", "A Boy Named Sue", "What is Truth" (which he insisted on singing to Richard Nixon, before Watergate) and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" comprise a multi-generational, multi-dimensional arc. One that coincided with his short-lived Johnny Cash Show on ABC, which first aired June 7, 1969. It was a year that also saw Cash chart nine albums and marked an apex of both success and creativity.
Producer Gregg Geller (also at the helm of the recent Ray Charles Friendship re-issue) has a lot to be proud of with this release. But this five-song sequence isn't his doing. The 27 tracks on Disc One are in chronological order of release.
Son, John Carter Cash also had a role in the sequencing and the deliberate themes of the CDs: Disc 2: Old Favorites and New; Disc 3: Great American Soundbook" and the very personal "Family and Friends."
As a listener goes on into the other three discs - with seven unreleased tracks found at the House of Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee - not just a like but an appreciation for the music and the man lives and continues on.
The core and center of all music remains a voice and a guitar. Johnny Cash demonstrates this reality easily and, seemingly, effortlessly. The wildest electronica when pared down to those two instruments can take on a poignancy and a rawness that can turn dance music into a heart-wrenching beautiful pattern.
Or you can just go start from the beginning.
Reviews of Disc 2, Disc 3 and Disc 4 will follow, starting tomorrow.