CD Review

Johnny Cash, American V: A Hundred Highways (Lost Highway)

Country music is one of America's most super-sweet inventions, and we can celebrate that heritage on the Fourth of July with the release of Johnny Cash's last-ever album, which happens to contain the last song Cash ever wrote. "Like the 309" is about that final train ride he knew he'd have to take: "Everybody take a look/See I'm doin' fine/Then load my box/On the 309." Gordon Lightfoot's beautiful ballad "If You Could Read My Mind" is another standout (one of the many cover songs in the Rick Rubin-produced American series) and Cash is joined there by members of the Heartbreakers (as well as Matt Sweeney from Chavez on guitar). Though his voice has deteriorated over the last few years, he still holds his own, adding a new and haunting element to the song. Cash also selects covers of Springsteen, Hank Williams and Rod McKuen, but he couldn't have made a better choice than Don Gibson's "A Legend in My Time," a song about the loneliness that a man endures to reach the pinnacle of his career. We watched Cash passing after the death of June Carter, and if you knew anything about the man, you knew how much he loved her. But he held on long enough to record this album before he left—one of his best in recent years.

 
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