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Monday, May 19, 2014

Johnny Cash -- American VI: Ain't No Grave

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From Uncut Magazine
When June Carter Cash died unexpectedly on May 15, 2003, there were fears that Cash would quickly follow her. (Producer Rick) Rubin spoke to him at the hospital soon after June’s death. 
“He said he’d been in a tremendous amount of pain his whole life, and he’d never felt anything like this. He seemed inconsolable. And I’m listening to him speaking, but I didn’t feel like there was anything I could offer, because the hole he was in was so deep and so dark. He sounded terribly weak and terribly old – the worst I’d ever heard him sound – and I don’t know where it came from, but I felt like it was given to me to ask him about his faith. Which is something we’d never really discussed. I said to him, ‘Do you think you could find the faith to get through this?’ When I said that, something about that word ‘faith’ triggered a very strong reaction. His answer was, ‘My faith is unshakeable.’ And when he said that, he became a whole different person. He re-formed into strong Johnny. As soon as I heard that I knew everything was going to be OK.” 
Cash was back in the studio days after June’s death, and told Rubin he wanted to have something to work on every day. The last studio recordings – on the unreleased American VI album – include the final song he wrote, “1st Corinthians (15:55)”, in which Cash addresses death directly. “Oh death,” he sings. “Where is thy sting? Oh death, where is thy victory?”
 On September 12, less than four months after June’s passing, Johnny Cash followed her to the grave. 
“That was the end of it,” says Marshall Grant, “the end of a long, gracious career. He was one of a kind and believe me when I tell you, there will never be another Johnny Cash. Never.

Seven years after Johnny Cash's death comes one final batch of new recordings, American VI: Ain't No Grave. Ain't No Grave literally comes from death's doorstep, as Cash prepares to meet his maker. It is a starkly beautiful final statement, featuring even more minimal arrangements than its predecessor--often only guitar, a little keyboard or piano, and Cash's deep, sweet, weathered voice. Cash at Heaven's Gate infuses more character into these songs than any person with miles to go, and his unshakeable faith and lack of fear in the face of death are as comforting an old friend as any music I've ever heard. He may have passed on, but his voice is one click away for those of us still here.

2010 American Recordings/Lost Highway
1. Ain't No Grave 2:53
2. Redemption Day 4:22
3. For the Good Times 3:22
4. I Corinthians 15:55 3:38
5. Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound 3:26
6. Satisfied Mind 2:48
7. I Don't Hurt Anymore 2:45
8. Cool Water 2:53
9. Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream 3:14
10. Aloha Oe 3:00

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