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Cash: The Autobiography

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Overview

Cash reflects on the mosaic of his life with his trademark brand of honesty, humility, and humor. It's all here. His childhood on an Arkansas cotton farm. The early years at Sun Records; being fired from the Grand Ole Opry; his life on the road; meeting and performing for world leaders; the years of addiction to amphetamines and pain pills; his attempt to kill himself and the profound, life-saving spiritual awakening that pulled him through; and his deep devotion to his wife, June, and their family. Here, in his ...
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Overview

Cash reflects on the mosaic of his life with his trademark brand of honesty, humility, and humor. It's all here. His childhood on an Arkansas cotton farm. The early years at Sun Records; being fired from the Grand Ole Opry; his life on the road; meeting and performing for world leaders; the years of addiction to amphetamines and pain pills; his attempt to kill himself and the profound, life-saving spiritual awakening that pulled him through; and his deep devotion to his wife, June, and their family. Here, in his own words, Cash sets the record straight, dispelling a few myths (contrary to popular belief, he never did serve jail time) and looking unsparingly at his own turbulent past. Also, woven throughout this compelling memoir are the friendships of a lifetime, with such fellow artists as Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan - and with Dr. Billy Graham, who so inspired Cash's own faith.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A humble, happy look back from the man in black.

Johnny Cash answers to many names; he's JR to childhood friends and family, John to bandmates, and Johnny to fans. "Cash" is the name wife June Carter reserves for "the star, the egomaniac." The star gets plenty of ink here, from the early days at Sun Records—with Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—to his current status as a darling of the alternative rock set. But it's the private man who's most compelling and surprisingly complex. Cash writes candidly of his recurring addiction to amphetamines and his concomitant shortcomings as a father, addresses his spirituality without sounding maudlin, and displays genuine humility at his success and very little bitterness at his abandonment by the country music establishment. A more accurate subtitle might be "The Second Autobiography," since this volume covers some of the same ground as Cash's previous work, The Man in Black (1986), but a life so chock full of oddments (he once started a forest fire with an automobile and on another occasion was nearly disemboweled by an ostrich) and renegade stands (he opposed Vietnam, heresy to the nation's blue- collar constituency) easily merits a second look. Organized around the domiciles where he divides his time—homes in Tennessee, Florida, and Jamaica, as well as his tour bus—the book stays grounded in the present, mixing reflections on his 40-year career with a running chronicle of an ongoing tour. This novel approach minimizes the as-told-to blahs that plague many a celebrity autobiography and highlights Cash's wry humor and introspection. With the help of Carr, editor of Country Music magazine, Cash keeps the pace lively until the end, when the roses he throws everyone from grandkids to music biz buddies bog things down.

Mostly, though, a pungent, substantive autobiography from one the most iconoclastic talents on the American music scene.

New York Times
“Insightful, relaxed, and conversational. . . . The stories sing.”
Country Music magazine
“Cash has always been cool.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Engaging. . . . Written with honesty and spiritual insight. . . . Cash’s stories shine.”
Country Music Magazine
"Cash has always been cool."
—Country Music magazine
“Cash has always been cool.”
--Country Music magazine
“Cash has always been cool.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780783884240
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was an American icon and country music superstar, a professed man of faith, as well as the author of three books. Cash first sang publicly while in the air force in the early fifties. The youngest person ever chosen for the Country Music Hall of Fame, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and awarded eleven Grammies in a career that spanned generations. Married to country legend June Carter, Cash performed everywhere from Folsom Prison to the White House, hosted his own television show, appeared in feature films, and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Read an Excerpt

My line comes down from Queen Ada, the sister of Malcolm IV, descended from King Duff, the first king of Scotland. Ada's holdings encompassed all the land east of the Miglo River in the Valley of the Bran, in what is now the county of Fife. Malcolm's castle is long gone, but you can still see some of its stones in the walls of the church tower in the little village of Strathmiglo. The motto on my people's coat of arms was "Better Times Will Come." Their name was Caesche; with emigration in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it came to be spelled the way it was pronounced, C-A-S-H.

The first American Cash was William, a mariner who captained his own ship, the Good Intent, sailing out of Glasgow across the Atlantic with cargoes of pilgrims for the New World until he himself settled in Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1667. His descendants migrated to Westmoreland County, Virginia, in the very early 1700s, before so many sons-in-law, past and present, that June makes a joke of it in her stage act.

My work life has been simple: cotton as a youth and music as an adult. In between I was an automobile factory worker in Michigan, a radio intercept operator for the United States Air Force in Germany, and a door-to-door appliance salesman for the Home Equipment Company of Memphis, Tennessee. I was a great radio operator and a terrible salesman. I hated the assembly line.

My first records were on the Sun label, run by Mr. Sam Phillips in Memphis and featuring Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and others as well as myself. My first single was "Cry, Cry, Cry" in 1955, my first big hit "I Walk the Line" in 19 5 6. 1 left Sun Records forColumbia in 119 5 8, and shortly after that I left Memphis for California.

My affair with pills had already begun. It quickly became allconsuming, eating me up for the next decade or so. Amazingly, it didn't completely ruin my career. During those years I made music I'm still proud of-particularly Ride This Train, Bitter Tears, and my other concept albums-and I had commercial success: "Ring of Fire" was a big hit for me in 1963. By that time I'd destroyed my family and was working hard on doing the same to myself.

I survived, though. I moved to Nashville, kicked my habit, and married June. My career accelerated. The Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album was a huge success, and in 1969 1 began hosting The Johnny Cash Show on the ABC TV network. After "Flesh and Blood" in 1970, 1 didn't have a chart-topping single until "One Piece at a Time " in 19 7 6, long after The Johnny Cash Show was history.

Between the early '70s and the early '90s I didn't sell huge numbers of records, but again I have to say that I made some music I'm still proud of, and those years weren't dull. I wrote my first autobiography, Man in Black, and my first novel, Man in White. I teamed up with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson in the Highwaymen. I left Columbia, owned by CBS Records, and went to Mercury/Polygram. I got elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. I got addicted to pain pills, got treated at the Betty Ford Clinic, recovered, got addicted again, and recovered again. I just about died, got saved by heart bypass surgery, and just about died again. I worked hundreds and hundreds of shows. I kept my operation together, more or less, until the wheel of fortune rolled around to me again.

That happened in 1994, when I formed an alliance with Rick Rubin, producer of radically non-Nashvillian acts like the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chill Peppers, and made my American Recordings album. According to the media at the time, that caused an overnight change in my status from "Nashville has-been" to "hip icon." Whatever they called me, I was grateful. It was my second major comeback; the minor ones have been too many to count.

I'm still on the circuit today, still recording, still writing songs, still showing up to play everywhere from Midwestern auditoriums to Manhattan trend spots to the Royal Albert Hall.I'm in reasonable shape physically and financially. I'm still a Christian, as I have been all my life. vBeyond that I get complicated. I endorse Kris Kristofferson's line about me: "He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction." I also like Rosanne's line: "He believes what he says, but that don't make him a saint." I do believe what I say. There are levels of honesty, though.

And there are levels of intimacy. I go by various names. I'm Johnny Cash in public and on record sleeves, CD labels, and billboards. I'm Johnny to many people in the business, some of them friends and acquaintances of many years. To June, I'm John, and that's my name among other intimates: my band, my sons-in-law, many friends, and people who work closely with me. Finally, I'm J.R., my name from childhood. My brothers and sisters and other relatives still call me that. So does Marty Stuart. Lou Robin, my manager, alternates between J.R. and John. June recognizes that I operate at various levels, so she doesn't always call me John. When I'm paranoid or belligerent, she'll say, "Go away, Cash! It's time for Johnny to come out." Cash is her name for the star, the egomaniac. Johnny is her name for her playmate.

Several names, several homes. I'm part gypsy, part homebody, so I live according to a rhythm alien to most people but natural to me, splitting my time on a semi-predictable basis between my big house on Old Hickory Lake just outside Nashville; my farm at Bon Aqua, farther outside Nashville; the house in Port Richey, Florida, that June inherited from her parents; an endless succession of hotels all over the world; my bus; and my house in Jamaica, Cinnamon Hill.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2004

    Typical autobiography

    I've read dozens of musicians' biographies and this one falls into the same category as most autobiographies: mediocrity. J.R. downplays and skims over the negative and puts his positive spin on just about everything else in retrospect. Some of the stories were great, but most of the pages seemed to be devoted to kissing up to his family... kids, grandkids, in-laws and anybody he'd ever worked with. It would have been nice to actually learn about the creation of the music. After all, that's the reason we even bother to care.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    One of My New Favorites

    I loved this book. Johnny really is a great storyteller. I'm not one for reading books more than once but I think I will with this one. If you aren't already a Cash fan this book might make you one. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    The Man In Black

    This is a superb autobiogarpghy of THE MAN IN BLACK. I think he gives us great detail of things that happened in his life. The way he came up with some of his songs and his battle with drugs. A Very interesting book to read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2007

    Johnny cash is the man

    Johnny Cash is more then you think. he is a man of outstanding statue. He is more then what people think he is, You can learn so much about life within this book. he had so much to offer anyone who talked to him. His life was so amazing, he did so much. Wether you like Johnny or not you sould read this book. My johnny's legend live on!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2007

    Enjoyable Read

    I truly enjoyed this book. Mr. Cash has a way with words. He welcomes you into his life as if you were a treasured friend. This isn¿t just about his career, but about him as a person, his thoughts and views. He talks about his home life before he became a star. He talks about his lifetime friends, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan to name a few. He takes you home to Cinnamon Hill, a sugar plantation built in 1700¿s with stories of how he came to own it, his home invasion, and a few ghost stories too. He takes to the White House and his meeting with each President. Mr. Cash bears his soul in this book, with his sense of humility, his spirituality and his love for June. I believe that fan¿s of the Man in Black won¿t be disappointed. They¿ll see a side of the man that perhaps they hadn¿t known.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Not what I expected, really, but brilliant

    Like a lot of people, I knew of Johnny Cash, and even liked a few of his songs. However, after watching Walk the Line and rediscovering his music, seeing a snippet of his life, I became enthralled. I¿ve since bought several of his albums, plan on buying more, and was quite delighted to find a copy of this book. I was expecting an autobiography, but I guess that¿s what the Man in Black is, which is sadly out of print (is anyone doing anything about that?). This book is more analogous to a journal, a collection of thoughts about Johnny Cash¿s life, career, friends, family, and music. It¿s a little disjointed, a little rambling once or twice, but who¿s journal isn¿t? It offers profound insight into the mind of one of the most brilliant musicians of our time. Anyone who has been a long time fan, or just recently discovered Johnny Cash will enjoy this book. Just don¿t expect to read the exact story portrayed in Walk The Line through Johnny¿s eyes, but do expect to gain even more respect and insight into a modern folk legend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Triumphant!

    Johnny Cash was the toughest hombre ever to walk the green, green grass of Earth. The man was built out of straps of leather and two-by-fours. Whiskey ran through his veins, and he pooped bob wire. All hail the Man in Black! Avert your eyes and prostrate yourself in his magnificent presence!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2004

    NEW BOOK IS GREAT COMPANION!

    The new book Cash: An American Man is a perfect companion to Johnny's own autobiography. The two books go hand in hand, since Cash: An American Man is comprised of Johnny's own handwritten letters, poems, songs, memorabilia, etc. I love both books and am thrilled to have them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Cash: The Autobiography

    Johnny Cash or the ¿Man in Black¿ was one of the most influential artists, period. He is the only musician in history to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter¿s Country Music. His second autobiography gives you an in depth look at his start at Sun Records and being on the road with other legends like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, the tragic death of his older brother Jack when Cash was only twelve, and living on Cinnamon Hill in Jamaica. My favorite thing about Cash¿s book was the beginning when he talked about his humble beginnings in Arkansas picking cotton with his family, and his spiritual journey which saved him from his addiction to amphetamines early in his career. His autobiography shows you all the sides to the ¿man in black¿ good and bad, from his attempt to kill himself to being robbed on Christmas Day on Cinnamon Hill in Jamaica. He was a true artist who didn¿t stop growing musically even in his last months. It¿s unlikely you¿ll find anything to not like about this book. With his tragic death last year his autobiography is a great way to remember the man in black; it gives you a greater appreciation for what he did for music. When I first began reading this book I didn¿t know much about his early life or career and soon I couldn¿t put it down. The book helps give you a better perspective on the man who broke all the rules with no apologies. With the help of Patrick Carr, Cash tells you his story as if he¿s right there telling it to you personally, intermingling life on the road and the loss of family and friends along the way. Cash¿s influence on music will be felt by everyone for decades to come.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2003

    Buy The REAL Cash, Not The Other Trash

    Now that the Man In Black has passed, this book is ever so essential. Don't be sucked in by the rags & trash that hit the stands trying to make a buck off of the man's name and legend. This is the real deal. By The Man himself. 'Nuff said.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Besides Man In Black, Cash is my FAVORITE!!

    Johnny Cash's books are so cool. The guy has been through everything.

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    Posted October 26, 2009

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    Posted January 16, 2009

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    Posted February 21, 2009

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    Posted November 15, 2008

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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    Posted May 18, 2010

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    Posted November 6, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

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