Buyer's guide: How to buy the best of Johnny Cash
The iconic singer-songwriter recorded almost 100 albums and, despite a few stylistic missteps, remained true to his rebel spirit
When Johnny Cash was once asked which subjects he most liked to sing about, he rattled off a long list that included “horses, railroads, rambling, damnation, salvation, work, whisky, murder, war, prison, humour, rebellion, heartbreak, rowdiness, love, family and God”.
In short, he liked to sing about life. From the light to the dark, the sacred to the profane, Cash’s songbook is all-embracing. And what makes it continue to resonate is not only the quality of the material, but also the voice that delivers it: deep, craggy, passionate. It’s the link between Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen. It has a folk singer’s directness, a preacher’s fervour and a rocker’s attitude. And although the voice suggests an epic hero, there’s always that little quaver at its centre to let us know that Cash is human.