Johnny Cash


This pristine collection of 18 songs is Johnny Cash’s final musical testament. According to the liner notes, Cash e-mailed the final track listing to his manager four days before his death. This is not a greatest-hits package in any sense, but rather an anthology of the songs that Cash felt closest to near the end of his life. Starting with the pastoral memories of “Suppertime,” many of the songs reflect Cash’s deeply humanistic Christian faith. When he sings “You’re the Nearest Thing to Heaven,” the images of love evoke both earthly pleasures and divine promise. “The Man in Black” is a recitation of Cash’s spiritual affiliation with “the poor and the beaten down, living on the hopeless hungry side of town” and the prisoner confined because “he’s a victim of the times.” Remastering gives the instrumental tracks a crystalline clarity of sound, and throughout Cash’s baritone voice is the craggy, soothing sound of emotional truth. The closing “Lead Me Gently Home” from a 1959 album of hymns ushers the album out on a note of peaceful reconciliation.