There’s loads been written about The Man In Black, including a waft of biographies, some better than others. There’s even been an Oscar-winning movie about part of his life. So I don’t really need to go into too much detail.
Johnny Cash lived from 1932 until 2003. His recording career had many ups and downs over the best part of half-a-century, and it’s estimated he sold in excess of 50 million albums. He was something of a pioneer – being one of the first artists to break down barriers between country music and pop music, dressing like a goth (sans white-face make-up tho’) decades before the genre was invented and patenting the fast-living, carefree drink and drugs lifestyle that other such as Keith Richards have since blazed. He was as well known and as popular by the time of his death as he was at the peak of his career some 30 years previously.
He made films and had his own networked TV show. He recorded songs with hundreds of other artists and was part of a touring ‘supergroup’.
In short, he did everything you could imagine in the life and times of a successful and charismatic musician.
I grew up with the sounds of Johnny Cash in the 60s and early 70s, sometimes in my own house, but most often when I visited and stayed over with an aunt and uncle who seemed to have all his records. In saying that, there was no way in my sultry teenage era, nor during my time at university when I thought I was cool and trendy, could I admit to having a love of any sort of country music far less having an idol in Johnny Cash. But as more and more hip bands began to include acoustic songs on their albums, it began to be easier to suggest country/blues influences without getting laughed at.
And then in the 1990s, thanks in the main to Rick Rubin and Def Jam Recordings, (but also to U2 who had performed a duet with him) Johnny Cash became fashionable again. His series of American Recording LPs, which featured a mix of Cash originals and cover versions, brought him to a whole new audience, with appearances at Glastonbury on MTV much in evidence.
I recently picked up my first ever Johnny Cash vinyl record of my own via an e-bay bargain……the 1967 CBS issue of Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. And from that, here’s a couple of tracks……..
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Orange Blossom Special
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Don’t Take Your Guns To Town
And from the tail-end of his career, here’s a couple of duets
mp3 : Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer – Redemption Song
mp3 : Johnny Cash & Nick Cave – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
And a couple of songs that namecheck the great man:-
mp3 : Sons & Daughters – Johnny Cash (live)
mp3 : Alabama 3 – Hello, I’m Johnny Cash
Finally, if you want to hear how good a job was done by the main players in the movie Walk The Line, have a listen to these two tracks:-
mp3 : Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson
mp3 : Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon – Jackson