Man in Black at top of the charts again

Reviewed by CJ Click
Times-News correspondent

One might pause when hearing that Johnny Cash, the legendary Man in Black, has an album that is not only at the top of the Billboard Country charts, but No. 3 on the overall Billboard 200 top-selling albums. Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, discovered the album that has previously been unreleased when going through his father’s collection. It’s a complete album, one that simply fell through the cracks at a low point of Cash’s career and at a time when the “Urban Cowboy” fad was firmly in root.

The posthumous album begins with the title track, a sad story about a man who purposively botches the robbery of a liquor store so as to be gunned down by the police. The album then picks up pace with “Baby Ride Easy,” featuring June Carter Cash, a track somewhat reminiscent of a faster version of the Johnny and June classic “If I Were A Carpenter.”

The album then goes on to take a reflective tone as Cash sings the David Allan Coe song “She Used to Love Me a Lot” with the raw emotion that only he can produce. Cash then moves along with “After All,” a song that continues to display his immense vocal expression. The next track, “I’m Movin’ On,” features Cash’s fellow outlaw Waylon Jennings on a live impromptu recording of the Hank Snow classic and might be the most upbeat song of the whole album.

“If I Told You Who It Was” typifies Cash’s humor that he likes to inject in his albums with a guest appearance by one of the greatest country comedians in Grand Ole Opry history — Minnie Pearl. The next track, “Call Your Mother,” was actually written by Cash and harkens back to the type of values that he had. “I Drove Her Out of My Mind” is another track that might make you laugh, displaying Cash’s humor in a fun (if not morbid) song.

The next song, “Tennessee,” serves as a tribute to the state Cash called home for a majority of his life. Cash asks that you don’t ask him to hang up his “Rock and Roll Shoes” in the next song. “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time,” featuring June Carter Cash, takes one back to a more “old-time” country sound and by extension a more simple time, having a certain nostalgic quality to the track.

Cash, a man of many personal struggles and deep faith as a result of them, wrote the last original song of the album, “I Came to Believe.” It is a powerful testament of Cash’s coming to faith and him believing in a higher power. (There is a bonus track of the album, a mix of “She Used to Love Me a Lot” by Elvis Costello — bringing Cash into the new age of music.)

It is a worthwhile listen not just for country fans, but music lovers alike.

CJ Click is a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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