Jan. 1, 2014

Johnny Cash by Robert Hilburn  The definitive biography of an American legend

In Johnny Cash: The Life, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical icon whose colorful career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age sixty-nine, that resulted in the brave, moving "Hurt" video. As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed Cash and his wife June Carter for the final time just months before their deaths in 2003. Hilburn's rich reporting shows the remarkable highs and deep lows that followed and haunted Cash in equal measure. A man of great faith and humbling addiction, Cash aimed for more than another hit on the jukebox; he wanted to use his music to lift people's spirits and help promote what he felt was the best of the American spirit.

Drawing upon his personal experience with Cash and a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer's inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply human portrait of one of the most iconic figures in modern popular culture - not only a towering figure in country music, but also a seminal influence in rock, whose personal life was far more troubled, and whose musical and lyrical artistry much more profound, than even his most devoted fans ever realized.

This new Johnny Cash book was interesting and full of a lot of information. The author refers to books by other people and interviews he made from the family, friends and other people that worked with him. Some of the information is common knowledge but most of it is new at least to me. The book for the most part was a lot like his life first part exciting full of life and information. The middle part was slow it dragged somewhat and took a little bit of time to get through it. The last part of the book was very interesting and like his career made for a fast read. That was when his career made a comeback. You get to see him as a much tormented person, from his childhood till he passed away. Seems from the time his older brother passed away. But he knew he wanted to be a singer and throughout his entire career he wanted to always sing or make a gospel record. Even his first meeting with Sam Phillips, his first song was a gospel song. Sam told him to come with something else, he needed something that would sell. It took him some time but came back with a song "Cry, Cry, Cry." After that it was “Folsom Prison Blues”. That was 1955, in 56, he came out with “I Walk The Line”. From there he was on his way. Like I said there is a lot of information actually too much to put into a review. I will say this he dealt with his addiction his entire adult life. He was constantly working on his faith, and for better or worse his just trying to overcome some of his demons to be a better person, like we are all trying to do. It was good to see his career come full circle and he did not turn down a chance to sing on a U-2 song which was his start of his last 4 albums with a young new producer who wanted to make Johnny Cash relevant again in the music industry, which he did. This is a fantastic book and is worth our time to read.

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