At the end of his life Johnny Cash recorded a multi-album project. Listening to this album it’s unmistakable that we’re listening to a man at the end of his life. His voice is in tatters but for some of these songs it’s actually quite effective. The songs were a very divergent group that crossed over popular styles that spanned generations. There’s everything from modern songs like Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” to old standards like “Danny Boy” and “We’ll Meet Again.” And he included pop songs from the 1960s and 1970s like the Beatles’ “In My Life,” the Eagles’ “Desperado” and Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” He also includes several country western standards like “Sam Hall” and “Streets of Laredo.” But the highlight of the album is the title song “The Man Comes Around.” It’s a dark vision of the Judgement Day. Cash claims that some of the lines came to him in a strange dream. I listen to this song when I’m feeling particularly pessimistic about the future.
Not all the songs work for me. And I’ll guess that not everyone will agree with my picks but here they are:
- The Man Comes Around
- I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
- Streets of Laredo
- Sam Hall
For older die-hard fans of Cash this will be a bitter-sweet experience because of the circumstances of this music. But I think the title song is a very stirring song that’s worth a listen by country music fans.