Think about it. How many artists produced memorable music over a span of almost 50 years? Beginning in the 1950s at Sun Records through his final albums earlier this decade, Cash defied the odds.
Most of the album features Cash covering songs of artists he admired. Though Cash is most associated with country music, the songs here are really all over the road. The song list includes: Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,' The Beatles' 'In My Life,' Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' and The Eagles' 'Desperado.'
Other songs include: Roberta Flack's 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,' the Irish ballad 'Danny Boy,' and the nostalgic 'We'll Meet Again.' Although many of these songs are quite well known, Cash breathes life into them and makes them his own.
The song from this set that got the most radio and television airplay was his version of Trent Reznor's 'Hurt.' The accompanying video was chilling, as Cash revealed his frailties for all to see. Cash knew he was nearing the end of his life, causing the song's images to resonate even more deeply. His artistic honesty remained in tact until the end.
The most interesting song on the album is the opening track 'The Man Comes Around.' Cash wrote this one, and his liner notes provide fascinating insight into the tune. It also provides insight into the creative process.
"I wrote and recorded 'The Man Comes Around' early on in this project," Cash wrote, "and for three or four months I recycled that song, over and over, until I'd have to get up out of bed, and turn on the radio. It worked for a while, but my inner playback system always went back to 'The Man Comes Around.'
"I spent more time on this song than any I ever wrote. It's based, loosely, on the book of 'Revelation' with a couple of lines, or a chorus, from other biblical sources. I must have written three dozen pages of lyrics, then painfully weeded it down to the song you have here.
"The initial idea for the song came from a dream I had seven years ago. I was in
"'Revelation' by its mere interpretation says that something 'is revealed.' I wish it were. The more I dug into the book the more I came to realize why it's such a puzzle, even to many theologians. Eventually, I shuffled my papers, so to speak, drew out four or five pages, and wrote my lyrics."
Indeed, the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. Cash has gone to another life now, but he certainly left his mark here. This is a powerful album.