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.
June Carter Cash
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
One of the most successful country stars of the 1950’s, Carl Smith is as well known today for his famous relatives as for his legendary music.
Revised and Updated for 2009 While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories. This is a look back at the Best Female Country Vocal Performance category. It was first awarded in 1965, an included single competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks. I’ve often made the case that female artists were making the best music in the 1990s, and the Grammys did a great job nominating songs and albums that were ignored at the CMA and ACM awards, which is not surprising, given that those shows have so few categories that are actually for songs and albums. As usual, we Read More
Various Artists Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic Country Contemporary Country Earlier this year, the Grammys celebrated their fiftieth anniversary with a series of compilations focusing on winners in different fields. Two of the best entries in this series focused on country music. With five decades of winners to choose from, it’s no surprise that Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic Country and Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Country are solid collections. The Classic Country set is particularly strong, including a diverse selection of significant artists from the sixties and seventies. Even better, most of them are represented with their signature tracks. Roger Miller opens the set with “King of the Road”, easily his biggest hit. Other superstars include Tammy Wynette (“Stand By Your Man”), Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”) and Waylon & Willie (“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”) As the collection moves on to the seventies and eighties, Read More
Johnny Cash Johnny Cash’s America In a time when the United States is at its most divided, the release of the new documentary Johnny Cash’s America explores the transcendent country singer and his influence on an increasingly alienated nation. As the voice for the underprivileged and an advocate for the underrepresented, Cash continued to cross boundaries of social status up until his death in 2003. During his lifetime, Cash gained the respect of every sitting President, and he was a frequent visitor at the White House, proving his ability to be a bipartisan champion for people’s rights. His unlikely leadership among the marginalized fringes of society was a testament to his humble, honest spirit and his comprehension of human suffering. Johnny Cash’s America perfectly depicts how the man was far greater than the music he created through its stunning visual images and countless interviews with colleagues on both sides of Read More
Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton Star of the Desert Arena Primm, NV October 14, 2008 In the better late than never category, on October 14, in between two of the craziest weeks ever, I made the trek to the middle of nowhere—Primm, Nevada—to watch two of my favorite mainstream country artists—Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton—perform together at the Star of the Desert Arena. Excellent separately, I was curious whether the sum of the whole would be greater than its individual parts. The answer is currently no, but the potential exists. Country music history is rife with stellar male/female duos, among them Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. Lambert and Shelton are not in this category, but clearly inspired by these pairings and having dated for the past year, they decided to take their home act on the road and Read More
Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison: Legacy Edition The original version of At Folsom Prison (review) is rife with a boiling intensity and a boundless pain that few artists are able to corral as well as the esteemable Johnny Cash. With the new Legacy Edition of the Folsom Prison set, a snapshot of his two-day stay at the site and the timeless music that flowed from the concrete walls, the sheer audacity (and artistry) exhibited by Cash is on full display. In all, 31 unreleased tracks are featured on Legacy Edition, including the entire second show, an event never before released on record, but the real treat here is the inclusion of the first documentary film to illustrate Cash’s most legendary day. Produced by award-winning director Bestor Cram and Cash biographer Michael Streissguth, the documentary follows the country star through Folsom and pinpoints his companionship with the inmates. Better still, the package includes over 40 pages of liner notes that detail Cash’s Read More
There are artists, and then there are people who use their particular craft to speak directly to the core of the human condition, who buck what is familiar and comfortable in pursuit of what is true. If you don’t yet happen to think Johnny Cash falls into the latter category, or have trouble understanding the worldwide veneration of the Man in Black, congratulations; there’s no better time to start your education. Tonight at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time (10 pm Pacific), The Bio Channel will air a two-hour documentary special entitled Johnny Cash’s America – and I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty sweet. Don’t believe me? Well, how about this to whet your appetite: The documentary explores the prominent themes of Cash’s life including love of the land, freedom, justice, family, faith and redemption through exclusive interviews, photos and unreleased music and footage. Interviews include Cash’s sister Joanne, son Read More
Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison 1968 A large part of Johnny Cash’s musical identity was established, of all places, in prison. Although the singer himself stayed on the right side of the law (for the most part), he felt a certain kinship with the prison population, full of wayward souls and hard-luck stories. The legend’s first jailhouse album, At Folsom Prison, speaks to this relationship, and is brimming with the boisterous enthusiasm of a crowd of convicts who felt a commonality and connection with Cash and his wicked, witty songs of sinful indulgence and its consequence. By the late sixties, Cash had been finding limited space for his songs on country radio, but the album (a risk that Columbia Records feared for him to take) revitalized his career. Recorded on January 13, 1968 at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, California, Cash’s live release, also featured his wife, June Carter Cash and Read More