Johnny Cash / Songs Of Redemption 1955 – 2002

 

1955 – 1969

 

01 Cry Cry Cry / Single A Side June 1955

02 Folsom Prison Blues / Single A Side January 1956

03 I Walk The Line / Single A Side January 1957

04 Train Of Love / Single A Side June 1957

05 Country Boy / Hot And Blue Guitar October 1957

06 Big River / Single B Side April 1958

07 Don’t Take Your Guns To Town / Single A Side January 1959

08 Pickin’ Time / Fabulous Johnny Cash January 1959

09 The Caretaker / Songs Of Our Soil January 1960

10 Swing Low Sweet Chariot / Hymns By Johnny Cash June 1960

11 Going To Memphis / Ride This Train December 1960

12 Tennessee Flat Top Box / Single A Side November 1961

13 Where You There (When They Crucified My Lord) / Single A Side November 1962

14 Casey Jones / Blood Sweat And Tears May 1963

15 Chain Gang / Blood Sweat And Tears May 1963

16 Ring Of Fire / Single A Side July 1963

17 The Ballad Of Ira Hayes / Single B Side December 1964

18 As Long As The Grass Shall Grow / Bitter Tears January 1965

19 The Long Black Veil / Orange Blossom Special April 1965 

20 Mister Garfield / Sings The Ballads Of The True West June 1965

21 Austin Prison / Everybody Loves A Nut July 1966

22 Joe Bean / Everybody Loves A Nut July 1966

23 I Tremble For You Originally Unreleased Recorded October 1967

24 Cocaine Blues / At Folsom Prison June 1968

25 Girl From The North Country / With Bob Dylan on Nashville Skyline May 1969

26 San Quentin / At San Quentin August 1969

 

1970 – 2002

 

01 Sunday Morning Coming Down / Single A Side August 1970

02 Wanted Man / Little Fauss And Big Halsy March 1971

03 Man In Black / Single A Side April 1971

04 Remember The Alamo / America November 1972

05 Oney / Any Old Wind That Blows April 1973

06 Lonesome To The Bone / Ragged Old Flag May 1974

07 Jacob Green / At Osteraker Prison June 1974

08 Last Gunfighter Ballad / Last Gunfighter Ballad February 1977

09 Ballad Of Barbara / Last Gunfighter Ballad February 1977

10 No Expectations / Gone Girl April 1979

11 West Canterbury Sub Division Blues / Silver September 1979

12 Cold Lonesome Mountain / Rockabilly Blues December 1980

13 Highway Patrolman / Johnny 99 November 1983

14 Committed To Parkview / With Willie Nelson on Highwaymen September 1985

15 Sixteen Tons / Johnny Cash Is Coming To Town May 1987

16 Cats In The Cradle / Boom Chickaboom February 1990

17 Drive On / American Recordings May 1994

18 Redemption / American Recordings May 1994

19 Rusty Cage / Unchained November 1996

20 I See A Darkness / Solitary Man October 2000

21 Mercy Seat / Solitary Man October 2000

22 Hurt / The Man Comes Around November 2002

23 The Man Comes Around / The Man Comes Around November 2002

 

   I must confess I’ve always had a strange fondness for one J.R. Cash. Even in my darkest, punk thrash days the chickaboom beat shone through. I guess I have my ol’ pa Bernard Frank Green to thank for that. Those Cash Greatest hits records spinning on his stereo in the late sixties and early seventies must have seeped into my soul. Praise be to Bernie!

   While compiling the any list of legends Johnny Cash would not be an obvious candidate to most people. But for me he had to be the second name on the list, following Elvis P. obviously. The Man in Black was, and is, a bonafide American legend who since his big break as a post Elvis Sun Records star in the mid fifties has earned massive respect from all. Incidentally, it was Sam Phillips who first billed him as Johnny much to John’s annoyance. But even with that teen idol name he rapidly became known for songs about the real deal; work, loneliness, alienation, murder, god, love, life, death!

   Of course he went through his own bad times, not least as he tripped through the sixties in a haze of pills and booze. Future wife June Carter saved his soul before god came along. He used the bible as his road map ever after and it helped him overcome the constant pain of a once broken jaw, and in his final decade the onslaught of Parkinson’s and diabetes. But for him it was always about the music which in its own unique way fell somewhere between the raw emotion of folk, the world weariness of country and the revolution of rock’n’roll.

    The Johnny Cash story is dotted with a huge number of landmarks. His Columbia recordings evolved from hit singles into a series of concept albums exploring various aspects of Americana. Bitter Tears was the crowning achievement of the original series. Stark and moving it raised his countries consciousness to the continuing plight of the American Indian when it was controversial to do so and included one of his best known songs, Peter Lafarge’s self explanatory ‘Ballad of Ira Hayes’. Another defining moment was his performance at Folsom Prison in 1968. The resulting album and second installment from San Quentin a year later pushed his star status into overdrive and the wonderful world of television.  The Johnny Cash Show ran from 1969 to 1971 and despite surprise at the position he found himself in there were still acts of subversion as John introduced his friend and compadre Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, The Who and a host of others to primetime America.

   Inevitably, his star waned when the TV show ended. He continued to record a clutch of albums in the late seventies and into the eighties, most of which are worth seeking out as they contain some fine stuff. One moderate success story was The Highwaymen project, in reality the unholy quartet of Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kristofferson teaming up to run through some old tunes. In 1986, after 28 solid years, Johnny Cash parted company with Columbia Records. And yet despite signing to Mercury he became the forgotten man until his remarkable resurrection under the guidance of Def Jams Rick Rubin and the American Recordings albums. Alone with his guitar they showcased some of the best songs he’d written in years. They also introduced him to a younger rock orientated audience who, trusting Rubin’s supreme hipness, were spellbound by Cash’s incredibly cool aura, despite him being old enough to their grandfather.

    The American series that followed included interpretations of contemporary songwriters like Soundgardens ‘Rusty Cage’, Will Oldham’s ‘I See A Darkness’, Nick Caves ‘Mercy Seat’ and Trent Reznors ‘Hurt’. All fitted the Cash mould as if they had been written especially for him. A real kick against the music establishment pricks. Infact, even after his death on 12th September 2003 controversy raged. The video of ‘Hurt’ featured images of the fragile, seriously ill Cash mixed up with footage of his younger self. Almost too personal to watch, the reality of old age decay was too overwhelming for the moral majority.

     This playlist attempts to portray an all round listening experience of Johnny Cash from start to finish, from well known hits that just couldn’t be left out to obscure almost impossible to find album tracks. Johnny Cash always fought for what he believed in no matter what the cost and I loved him for it. Maybe he’s up there somewhere still strumming that chickaboom beat with my ol’ Pa at his side listening, smiling and musing on his eldest boy. I like to think so.

 

Summer 2004