Testo In Italiano

Johnny Cash undoubtedly represents an icon not only in terms of ‘country music’, but also any time American culture is dealt with in its widest sense and meaning. In his troubled – both personally and artistically – life, Johnny Cash knew how to embody all those stereotypes and relational patterns that still represent the highest meaning of the term “Americana”.
In 2014 SONY MUSIC/LEGACY has recently released an album – a late one, of course – which includes unreleased material John recorded thirty years ago (1984), enriched with an alternate version of “She Used To Love Me A Lot”, bonus track which closes the album and features British rocker Elvis Costello as both performer and producer.
The record (I know many of you think this term is pretty ‘out of time’, but I still like to think of a shiny black vinyl – a vinyl version was actually released! – stubbornly spinning on a turntable, despite the nowadays technologies… I apologize for this outburst of mine) opens with the title-track, a brilliant ballad by Adam Mitchell (only one album dated 1979 under his belt, released by Warner Brothers Records, which featured the original version of the great song). For those of you who might be interested to know the details of it, I remind you that also Merle Haggard had dedicated the title of his 1986 album to this little and underestimated jewel, including a great version of it with the album. The pace of Johnny Cash version doesn’t specifically recall the “book-chicka-boom” sound that was the unmistakable trademark of his early recordings, but it sounds more like a quiet country sound, self-celebrative in a sense, but Johnny can – still – afford it. To improve and enrich the musical texture, Jerry Douglas on dobro and Marty Stuart (former Johnny’s son-in-law) on mandolin do their very best. The lyrics get to very high level of lyricism when it paints the scene with vivid colors:
“…it’s midnight at a liquor store in Texas
closing time: another day is done.
when a boy walks in the door and points a pistol
he can’t find a job but he’s found a gun…”
Despite the fact that more than thirty years have come and gone since the song was written (1979), the context is definitely present.
“…he pictures the arrival of the cruisers
sees that old familiar anger in their eyes
he knows that when they’re shootin’ at this loser
they’ll be aimin’ at the demons in their lives…”
To think that there’re still people who tend to categorize country music as “all hat, no cattle”…
The following song “Baby Ride Easy” (by Texas singer-songwriter Richard Dobson, proud author of more than fifteen albums in his own right since 1977 and dear friend to the great and late Townes Van Zandt) is a great duet with Johnny’s lovely wife June Carter-Cash, who is also featured on “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time”. The song is a very nice uptempo, strongly reminiscent of another duet, permanently linked to the couple, the 1968 “Jackson”. It is a classic duo performance, with the voices of husband and wife perfectly blend in a harmony that unfortunately today only survives in their recordings together and in the memory of those lucky enough to see them perform live.
“She Used To Love Me A Lot” again turns out to be nice and introspective, featuring Marty Stuart on mandolin and a surprising final. Whereas “After All” doesn’t really add much to the album, definitely different is “I’m Movin’ On”. Yes, it’s the famous classic hit song written by the late Canadian country music star Hank Snow and here it is sung by Johnny and the late (again….) Waylon Jennings. Please realize that these two gentlemen represent the living half of the Highwaymen, a sort of country supergroup including Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson as well, which might remind of the rock supergroups of the seventies like CSN & Y (to each his own…). Vocal harmonies of the two are stellar class and the two voices blend together without one going over the others in a perfect balance.
“If I Told You Who It Was” is a classic country-song by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam: the nice review of an – unlikely – meeting of our Mr. Nobody going through Nashville and his favorite female Country Music Star, whose identity won’t be unveiled during the song, so that anybody can personalize the situation according to his own will. Just a couple quotations from the lyrics:
“…my favorite female country star
waving to her fans and headed for her car
her tire, unlike her body, was very flat…
She said ‘Could you change my tire?’
I said ‘Your wish is my desire’…”
“…She said ‘Do you need a lift?’ and I said ‘Well,
you can drop me off at the York Hotel…
you’re kinda cute, fella: Do you wanna mess around?’
when we got to my room just to be polite
I said ?I sure wish I could have heard you sing tonight’
she smiled to me and said “What do you want to hear?’
now, if I was one of them country music folks
I tell you, she’d sure get my vote
“Call Your Mother” takes us back to a more sober context, closer to Johnny Cash image. It’s another great ballad performed by an absolutely matchless and unmistakable voice. From the moderate uptempo of “I Drove Her Out Of My Mind” to the classic country of “Tennessee”, via a nice “Rock & Roll Shoes”, the album closes with “I Came To Believe” a gospel-tinged performance.
“Out Among The Stars” is an album which was recorded in 1984, but after thirty years it still sounds absolutely as if it had been released today and this is a feature that only few artists can brag about: Johnny Cash is one of these artists.(Dino Della Casa )