Listen Up: Wednesday, September 26, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Johnny Cash

American IV: The Man Comes Around (Lost Highway Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

More than any of his country contemporaries, Cash is really a folksinger at heart (if his marital Carter Family connection and televised duet with Dylan on “Girl From the North Country” didn’t make that obvious enough). He’s also the kind of songster (Willie Nelson’s another) who can take anybody else’s material and make it sound like his own. Since he teamed with producer Rick Rubin for American Recordings back in ’94, this has produced some interesting results — his surprising cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” from 1996’s Unchained, f’rinstance.

On this one, Cash’s voice, while not what it once was, still isn’t as blasted as, say, Merle Haggard’s. He takes on the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and, uh, Sting, with results you’d expect if you’ve heard the earlier volumes in the American series. And if his version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” isn’t going to make anyone forget Roberta Flack’s, it might remind a few people that the tune was penned by Scottish folkie Ewan MacColl.

Sure, you might wonder why he’s essaying material like “In My Life,” “Danny Boy,” or “The Streets of Laredo,” which I can’t believe he’s never recorded before, at this late date. But you’ve gotta dig the duets with Fiona Apple (I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the knife fight over who was going to sing the Art Garfunkel part — Johnny lost), a girly-sounding Don Henley, and Nick Cave doing his best Bryan Ferry impersonation.

Biggest kick: the Cash-penned title track, which contains the inspirational verse, “It’s hard for you to kick against the pricks / Till Armageddon, no salaam, no shalom / Then the father hen will call his chickens home.”


Email this Article...

Back to Top


Copyright 2002 to 2017 FW Weekly.
3311 Hamilton Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 321-9700 - Fax: (817) 335-9575 - Email Contact
Archive System by PrimeSite Web Solutions