Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Top 102 Albums⁺ No 32 With His Hot and Blue Guitar
Top 102 Albums⁺ No 32
With His Hot and Blue Guitar - Johnny Cash
Trying to pick out a single album from the myriad albums released by Johnny Cash is an invidious task. The two great live prison albums; his duets with June Carter; the wonderful Bitter Tears with the deathless Ballad of Ira Hayes and the wonderful historical revisionism of Custer:
"Now I will tell you buster that I ain't a fan of Custer
And the General he don't ride well anymore
To some he was a hero but to me his score was zero
And the General he don't ride well anymore"; Orange Blossom Special, which introduced Dylan to the Grand Ol' Opry and saw waves of venom aimed at Cash; or perhaps one of the albums from his magnificent late flowering? In the end I decided to go back right to the beginning and pick his debut album, which was also the first album released by Sun Records. I also have a very prized original copy from my parents collection.
The album has the classic lineup of Cash and the Tennessee Two, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant. The songs are short, simple and direct. Cash was always direct, whether singing to his lord, being mawkish, plumbing tragic depths, confessing his sins, delivering punchlines or promising love. You could use his voice to define the word. Open the dictionary and it just plays I Walk the Line.
The songs on this album include many that have long entered the canon: Cry, Cry, Cry; I Walk the Line; The Wreck of the Old 97 and Folsom Prison Blues... Johnny managed to be a rebel who never turned against his parents or their generation, a traditionalist who appealed to iconoclasts; he is one of those voices that all subsequent voices will be measured against, and found wanting.
The first songs I learnt to sing were Cash songs* - Billy Don't Bring Your Guns to Town; Get Rhythm; Ring of Fire. I've listened to him since I was born and I don't intent stopping until I die.
*As an additional "bonus?" I have uploaded The Knocking Shop's rough version of The Green Green Grass of Home, a song I learnt from Johnny. Not that he should take any blame for the mauling I gave the song.