Johnny Cash

Daily Top Five: Murder Monday

June 22, 2015 // 29 Comments

Not only is the alliteration kind of fun, Murder Monday seems appropriate, because who doesn’t want to murder Monday? What are some of your favorite  murder songs? The murder came as a delicious surprise in  the song that I’ve chosen as my first choice. Old Crow Medicine Show, “My Good Gal” Vince Gill, “Molly Brown” Johnny Cash, “Delia’s Gone” Willie Nelson, “Time of the Preacher” Gillian Welch, “Caleb Meyer”  

Daily Top Five: Most Essential Albums

May 26, 2015 // 27 Comments

Suggested by longtime reader and commenter  Jonathan Pappalardo: What are the five most essential albums in your collection? I love this question! Here’s my list: Dixie Chicks, Home Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly Trisha Yearwood, Hearts in Armor Linda Ronstadt, Heart Like a Wheel Was going to try to do some equal opportunity attempt and squeeze in an album by a male act.  But even without repeating artists, the next seven or eight would still be female artists. So here are my five most essential albums by male artists, for the record Johnny Cash, American III: Solitary Man Dwight Yoakam, Gone Todd Snider, The Devil You Know Willie Nelson, Phases and Stages Alan Jackson, Like Red on a Rose

Daily Double Top Five: Best & Worst Cover Songs

May 2, 2015 // 23 Comments

Again, we play catch up with a daily double top five, and this one focuses on cover songs. So many great songs have been re-recorded over time.  Sometimes the new versions are so good that you discover something new about the original.  Other times, the new takes are so bad that you just wish they’d left well enough alone. So today we ask: What do you think are the best and the worst cover songs? For my five best, I’m picking versions that I enjoyed so much more than the originals that I rarely listen to the first versions anymore.  But you don’t have to do that! Original artists are in parentheses after each pick. Five Best Cover Songs Emmylou Harris, “The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel) Johnny Cash, “Why Me Lord”  (Kris Kristofferson) Reba McEntire, “Sweet Music Man” (Kenny Rogers) Alison Krauss, “Ghost in This House” (Shenandoah) Dwight Yoakam, “Wichita Read More

Album Review: Ralph Stanley & Friends, Man of Constant Sorrow

April 18, 2015 // 1 Comment

Ralph Stanley & Friends Man of Constant Sorrow Perhaps the uninitiated may have “discovered” Ralph Stanley through his participation in the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, For those who have spent their lives appreciating the man and his music, Ralph Stanley is a certified living legend — not to mention one of the last remaining links to that first generation of bluegrass musicians who blazed the trail for newgrassers and traditionalists alike. Even though he threatened retirement not long ago, the 87-year-old singer is back with a new duets album, available through Cracker Barrel stores.

The Twenty Best Albums of 1994

December 26, 2014 // 5 Comments

As 2014 comes to a close, the Country Universe staff has been collectively impressed by the number of quality albums that were released this year.  How many of those albums, however, will we still be listening to in twenty years? We have that benefit of hindsight for the year 1994, and we’ve compiled our twenty favorite studio sets from that year.  At their time of release, some of our favorites were comeback albums from veteran artists, some were from current artists reaching new artistic and commercial peaks, and some were debut sets from artists that went on to become mainstays on country radio or in the Americana music scene that was just coming together twenty years ago. What they all have in common is that each and every one of them still sounds great today, and they collectively show the wide breadth that the country music landscape was transforming into Read More

Best Singles of 1994, Part 4: #10-#1

December 16, 2014 // 20 Comments

The countdown concludes with a wide range of classics, including breakthrough hits, signature songs, and exciting later career gems from long-established icons of the genre. #10 “(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All” Alan Jackson Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride LW #10 | BF #5 | JK #38 What makes a better country song than a stark naked light bulb, one lonely pillow on a double bed, a mournful fiddle and steel guitar? Jackson’s “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All” is one of the finest exhibits to present as the answer to that question. – Leeann Ward

100 Greatest Men: #4. Johnny Cash

August 15, 2014 // 9 Comments

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List Known affectionately as the Man in Black, Johnny Cash is a figure who has towered over popular music, casting a long shadow over the history of both country and rock and roll. He was born and raised in Arkansas, and was writing songs from the age of twelve, inspired by the artists that he heard on country radio.   Unlike many of the legends of his time, he did not pick up a guitar until much later, purchasing one while he was in the Air Force.  After his time in the service, Cash married and settled down in Memphis, Tennessee, working odd jobs while focusing on his music at night.

100 Greatest Men: #21. Elvis Presley

July 6, 2014 // 10 Comments

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List From the vantage point of history, he is the indisputable King of Rock & Roll.   But he earned that title through his ability to perform country, blues, and R&B successfully, and it is often his impact as a country artist that is most easily overlooked. Presley was born into deep poverty in Mississippi, laying the groundwork for his exposure to American roots music.  By his teenage years, he was living in Memphis, and it is in that city where he would be discovered by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips.  His work for Sun Records cannot be overstated in its significance.  On those early recordings, he brought together elements of country, blues, and R&B into a sound called rockabilly, which created the very foundation for what would soon be known as rock and roll.  His cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was among Read More

100 Greatest Men: #24. The Statler Brothers

June 29, 2014 // 4 Comments

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List In 2008, the Statler Brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.   Five members of the quartet were inducted, a tribute to their status as one of the few groups in recorded music to achieve legendary success both before and after a high-profile lineup change. The Statler Brothers got their name from a tissue box, though two of them – Harold and Don Reid – were actually brothers.  First performing as the Kingsmen, hey started as a church singing group in Staunton, Virginia. Harold initially performed as part of a trio with Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt, and Don joined later on, making them a quartet.   They opened a local show for Johnny Cash, who was so impressed that he invited them to join his traveling show and helped them score a contract with Columbia Records.

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Carlene Carter

May 29, 2014 // 13 Comments

It’s easy to forget just how talented Carlene Carter is.  In the last eighteen years, she’s only given us two albums to remind us.  But with a career that stretches back to her 1978 eponymous debut album, all the way through her excellent new release, Carter Girl, she has been a consistently excellent entertainer and songwriter. In addition to her latest release, her albums Musical Shapes (1980), I Fell in Love (1990), and Little Love Letters (1993) are all among the best country albums of their time.  Those three sets factor heavily into this list, but there are plenty of great moments on most of her other studio albums, too.  Her first four sets tend to fade in and out of print, but they’re worth snapping up when available. It’s been more than five years since I’ve done a Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists post.  For the uninitiated, my rubric Read More

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