Most of us are familiar with the story of Johnny Cash.
At least as much of it as Hollywood has seen fit to tell us, and
the most recent film Walk The Line was a great look into
the life of one of music's finest gentlemen and songwriters. What
a lot of folks don't know, and one of the things that Hollywood
never fails to neglect in the telling, is that Johnny Cash was
quite a man of God, among the other things. From his earliest
recordings Cash knew that gospel music was as much a part of his
career as twangy honky-tonk or rock and roll, and he kept that
faith even unto his last record. Cash always recorded songs about
faith and God, and collected here are some of his finest from
all facets of his early career.
There are tracks that Cash's fans are intimately familiar with,
including his amazing takes on classics like "In The Sweet
By And By", Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", and "He
Turned The Water Into Wine". Possibly the best known of Johnny's
early gospel tracks was "I Was There When It Happened",
and that track is included here in its glory, with its splendid
background chorus and Luther Perkins' simple and pure telecaster
playing. The bluegrass classic "The Great Speckle Bird"
is here, minus the Carter Family, but glorious nonetheless.
Johnny's versions of "Amazing Grace" and "There'll
Be Peace In The Valley (For Me)" are tremendous, and bring
out a contemporary feel in those classic hymns. "Daddy Sang
Bass" is classic Cash rock, along with wonderful vocal backing
from June Carter, and wraps up the collection beautifully
with the hopping "Children Go Where I Send Thee".
There are a couple of tracks here that are previously unreleased,
and while I'm not sure of that fact, I've never heard them before
now. Johnny gives an amazing rendition of the classic Baptist
hymn "How Great Thou Art", accompanied simply by piano
and organ, staying much more true to a church-like feel without
the electric guitars. "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)"
mixes a bit more honky-tonk feel in with the piano and swinging
drums, while "My Ship Will Sail" is simplified; Johnny
singing along to a basic bass and drum track until the glorious
background singers come chiming in. If you are a Cash fan and
you've never heard these tracks, then this collection becomes
even more essential.
The beauty of these songs is that they reflect the faith and
passion of a young Johnny Cash for the gospel and the teachings
of Christ. The difference between these early tracks and the later
songs that Johnny recorded is the experience of living, and the
unique knowledge of God's grace that comes with a lifetime of
that living. These songs are a bit naïve at times, lacking
in the conviction of life's hard-learned truths, but they are
classics and an essential part of any Cash collection.
1. Here Was A Man (Live)
2. The Preacher Said, "Jesus Said"
3. I Was There When It Happened
5. That's Enough
6. It Was Jesus
7. The Old Account
8. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
9. The Great Speckle Bird
10. He'll Understand And Say Well Done
11. How Great Thou Art
12. It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)
13. He Turned Water Into Wine
14. Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)
15. Troublesome Waters
16. (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
17. The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
18. In The Sweet By And By
19. My Ship Will Sail
20. Far Side Banks Of Jordan
21. Oh Come, Angel Band
22. Amazing Grace
23. Daddy Sang Bass
24. Children Go Where I Send Thee
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