People don't just listen to Johnny Cash: they believe in him. But no one has told the Man in Black's full story, until now. In Johnny Cash: The Life, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical icon, whose colourful career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to his remarkable, brave and deeply moving 'Hurt' video, aged sixty-nine.
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 for the jukebox; he wanted his music to lift people's spirits.
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 realised.
©2013 Robert Hilburn (P)2013 Hachette Audio
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"The Man In Black"
The was a fantastic review of the life of JR. I was already a Cash fan, and was pleased with each song or album which was discussed in the book, however the detail and insight in to Johnny's turbulent and intriguing life were fascinating. I already knew some rough outlines of JC's life, but the depth and honesty this book portrays is worth reading. This really is a 'warts n all' look at the life of Johnny Cash and can, in places be surprising. Do not enter in to this with a rose tinted view of Cash as a virtuous moral role model, but a man who battled against his own personal demons his whole life. I cannot highly recommend this book enough for any Johnny Cash Fan.
"Not to my taste"
To just have words when we're hearing about a singer seems lacking in content. It would probably be better on the radio where the music could be injected at appropriate points.
I'm afraid this is the first title I've stopped listening to part way through. I heard about the title on the radio and thought it sounded good so bought it straight away. This may have been due to the periodic musical injections but the story didn't have the same energy and enthusiasm as portrayed.
"Darkness and Light"
Yes I would, we all share an interest in the roots of the music that we tend to listen to.
Rick Rubin, he saw Cash, the man, at his core and built those American Albums from that core.
His tone of delivery was actually entirely appropriate to the story, just the right balance between impartial observer and interested party. He could also slip into a pretty good Johnny Cash impression when required.
The passing of Johnny's brother. The sense of devastation felt by the family, as well as the wider community was well conveyed. Also the deaths at the end were very well written.
I'm a big Johnny Cash fan and there was plenty of information contained within that I didn't know. There might even have been moments where I learned things that I felt like I didn't really WANT to know, given my admiration for the man, but to truly understand him it's important to have all the information I think. This is a 'warts and all' biography, although clearly written with a huge amount of respect for the man, there's plenty of darkness contained within this biography as well as moments of true redemption and beauty. In the end, it's a story of love and of faith, but there were plenty of times when that might not have seemed to be where his story was headed.
The book sums his character, as well as his life up beautifully, it's both darkness and light.
"The unblemished, unflinching truth"
First of all, if you've watched 'Walk the Line' (the 2005 Hollywood film of Johnny Cash's life) - that's the fairy story narrative of this man's life.
A generation of people will understand that Johnny Cash's life was basically a story of how he married young, to the wrong woman, Vivian. She resented his music and gave him a hard a time. He hit the drugs to keep going on the road and found the affections of June Carter - who he fell in love with. He divorced Vivian, and June understood him and saved him from his demons, which included drugs and the bitter memories of losing his brother as a child, and his equally bitter relationship with his father.
Ok - park that story there. Not only is it incredibly unfair on Vivian Cash, it's also incredibly indulgent on Johnny Cash. It also paints June as a saintly figure - and she was far from that in the way she went after the married Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash was a bad man. Make no mistakes about it. He was wild. There were more women in his life than just Vivian and June. The film doesn't really look at his temper, his violence, his drugs, his missed tour dates (at one point he was missing more bookings than he turned up for). Somehow his incredible talent pulled him through both professionally and personally.
You have to read/listen to this book because the full story, the anecdotes, the legends are as incredible as they are true - and Robert Hilburn is unflinching in his determination to tell the fact from the fiction.
Johnny Cash is a great human being. He experienced the hell of surviving all his personal, emotional and psychological wrong doings and he distilled them to become bitter sweet dark dark chocolate sound of his country, rockabilly, folk and pop music. He was a champion for the underdog, he was resolutely non-judgemental of others, and he walked a line that few others could ever have survived.
Quite incredible man, and all credit to Robert Hilburn, quite an incredible account of it all.
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