Number 624 - Johnny Cash
"(Ghost) Riders In The Sky"
26.02.32 to 12.09.03
When Johnny Cash died in 2003, he left behind a vast legacy of recorded music spanning half a century. Cash was a mythical figure who embodied much of what was good, bad, and sometimes contradictory about America. In his early days on Sun Records, he walked the line between rockabilly and country, demonstrating a common touch that appealed to both audiences. He was a born-again Christian whose gospel albums thundered with indignation over humankind's sinful ways. He was also a recidivist drug addict whose bad habits led to periods of ill health and rehabilitation. He espoused political stances and created an indelible persona. On 1971's Man in Black, which found him at peak popularity, he declared his intention to protest poverty, prejudice, and society's ills by cloaking himself in black until things changed. His seeming contradictions only underscored his complexity, and he continued to wear black until his death, at age 71.
For more on Johnny Cash see Number 705
What does Rolling Stone think about Johnny Cash?
To be sure, Cash's prolific discography --numbering over a hundred albums, not counting compi-lations, repackages, box sets, and greatest hits --includes its share of mediocrities. There are even some outright duds and follies. (Mean as Hell! and Everybody Loves a Nut, from the '60s, and The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me and Look at Them Beans, from the '70s, leap to mind.) Still, Cash moved fearlessly forward and kept at his calling with a righteous sense of mission. Much of the time, remarkable things happened when Cash hit the studio or stage. He cut one of the better (and more popular) albums of his career in 2002, with American IV: The Man Comes Around. Such things just don't happen to popular musicians at age 70. The secret: Johnny Cash stayed hungry and remained true to himself. RS
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