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Johnny Cash: The Songs    Edited by Don Cusic order for
Johnny Cash
by Don Cusic
Order:  USA  Can
Thunders Mouth Press, 2004 (2004)
Paperback, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This collection of Johnny Cash's lyrics is edited by Don Cusic, who begins his Introduction with 'Johnny Cash was certainly a poet, but he was much more than that; he was a writer.' Cusic provides a brief composite of Cash's life. Born in Arkansas, he was called 'J. R.' by his family and 'Shoo-Doo' by some. Cash's growing years included employment in the automobile industry in Pontiac, Michigan. Cash joined the United States Air Force in 1950, and was stationed in Germany as a radio operator, monitoring air traffic. Cash was a 'daydreamer' who penned 'stories and poems on paper'; he turned many into song, first with his original backup group the 'Tennessee Two' (Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant). Cash's early song writing and recordings from the mid-1950's include the well-known 'Folsom Prison Blues' and 'Hey Porter', first released as singles. Cash's third single 'I Walk The Line' propelled him to stardom in 1956, selling over one million copies.

Cusic addresses what is behind the Cash songs, stories of hope, despair, vengeance, greed, violence, repentance, and love, his trip to Israel, and lyrics relating to his love of country, family, and God. Most were penned by Cash, some co-written with other artists like Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, his beloved wife June Carter Cash, and son J. C. Cash. An album solely by Cash is titled 'From Sea To Shining Sea', about life in America. Cash starred on his own weekly ABC-TV production, The Johnny Cash Show, from 1969-1971 and the summer of 1976. 'Cash: American Recordings' was one of four successive albums validating his standing and adding a new, young audience. Cash's final album, 'The Man Comes Around', and many honors from the Country Music Association, his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and MTV awards all 'tell a lot about the timeless appeal of Johnny Cash.' Ending his Introduction, Cusic says 'It took a long hard life to write the songs that Johnny Cash wrote, and a good, sweet life to sing them.'

Don Cusic gives an outstanding perspective on American icon Johnny Cash, blending the artist's life, the background to his music, and the history of his albums. Cusic has included the lyrics to many of Cash's songs, categorized under such headings as, 'God', 'Prisons and Prisoners', 'Patriot', and 'Soldiers and Wars'. The book is a must read not only for Johnny Cash followers, but for all music lovers. The poetry, lyrics and recitations of this 'Man In Black' make a memorable gift.

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