Songs of Our Soil [Bonus Tracks]

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
This folksy concept album, originally released in 1959, is a sneaky affair: Cash's performances are so amiable that they almost disguise the depth of his subjects. In keeping with its title, Songs of the Soil indeed addresses the elements' role in shaping everyday events, but it's also about people whose daily lives depend on the soil and the turning of the earth. In "Five Feet High and Rising," water is wreaking havoc on peoples' lives; two songs later, in "Hank and Joe and Me," water is the elusive life-giving element for three bereft desert wanderers ("I'm dying for water/Can't help crying/for water," Cash sings). In "Don't Step On Mother's Roses," he reflects on the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
This folksy concept album, originally released in 1959, is a sneaky affair: Cash's performances are so amiable that they almost disguise the depth of his subjects. In keeping with its title, Songs of the Soil indeed addresses the elements' role in shaping everyday events, but it's also about people whose daily lives depend on the soil and the turning of the earth. In "Five Feet High and Rising," water is wreaking havoc on peoples' lives; two songs later, in "Hank and Joe and Me," water is the elusive life-giving element for three bereft desert wanderers ("I'm dying for water/Can't help crying/for water," Cash sings). In "Don't Step On Mother's Roses," he reflects on the seasonal reminder of his late mother's unconditional love ("They'll bloom for me each year/And I'll have mother near"). "The Caretaker" describes a cemetery keeper's musings on the solace he finds in the peaceful land and the resting souls nearby, while wondering if he is so isolated that no one will mourn come judgment day. The stark, throbbing "Old Apache Squaw" finds Cash contemplating the tragedies and resentments hidden by the weary eyes of an elderly Native American woman. This reissue includes two fine bonus tracks, both familiar to Cash fans: the durable, jaunty Leadbelly-inspired prison ballad, "I Got Stripes," and "You Dreamer You," better known in some quarters as "Oh What a Dream." Songs of the Soil is gentle and tuneful, but its placid exterior can't mask the meaningful dramas played out in its songs.
All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
One of Cash's earlier pseudo-concept albums, this doesn't exactly follow a specific theme like farming or hymns of the American land the whole way through. Rather, it's a collection of a dozen songs that generally are on the folkier and more Americana-centered side of Cash's repertoire, though, of course, such songs have always had a prominent place in his material. He bagged the songwriting credits for all but one of the songs on Songs of Our Soil, skillfully relaying tales of drinking, disastrous farm flooding "Five Feet High and Rising", the vicious circle of sharecropping "The Man on the Hill", death and burial "The Caretaker", Native Americana "Old Apache Squaw", and spiritual-like piety "It Could Be You Instead of Him." The death-in-the-desert tale of "Hank and Joe and Me" might get unintentionally camp with its rather jaunty depiction complete with gospel-like backup choral vocals of the narrator dying of thirst on a quest for gold. Although "J. Cash" gets the songwriting credit for "I Want to Go Home," in fact it's his version of the homesick-sailor folk tale more commonly known as "Sloop John B," recorded elsewhere by the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, the Beach Boys, and others. It's a good set, though pretty short at 26 minutes, and lacking the hits or classics that decorate some of his other vaguely Americana concept albums. The 2002 CD reissue peps things up a bit with two bonus tracks, the singles "I Got Stripes" and "You Dreamer You," both recorded at the same March 12, 1959, session that yielded most of the songs on the original LP.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/1/2008
  • Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
  • UPC: 886972495729
  • Catalog Number: 724957
  • Sales rank: 48,052

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Johnny Cash Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Marshall Grant Bass
Luther Perkins Electric Guitar
Marvin Hughes Piano
Morris Palmer Drums
Technical Credits
Johnny Cash Arranger, Composer
Billy Altman Liner Notes
Roy Carter Composer
Don Law Producer
Guy Smith Composer
Mark Wilder Mastering
Billy Mize Composer
Al Quaglieri Reissue Producer
Howard Fritzson Art Direction
Vic McAlpin Composer
Seth Foster Engineer
Charlie Williams Composer
Traditional Composer
John Christiana Packaging Manager
Buddy Mize Composer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Moving, early album of folk ballads

    Cash¿s third album for Columbia (all three released in 1959!), isn¿t a concept album in the thematic sense of 1960¿s "Ride This Train," but like the preceding "Hymns," it stakes out a singular musical ground, in this case, folk ballads. Cash writes and sings songs of the American landscape (quite literally, in some cases), including tales of floods, family and the mythical West. Though the gospel-influenced "It Could Be You (Instead of Him)" and traditional "The Great Speckle Bird" wear their faith on their sleeves, the folk songs of "Songs of Our Soil" treat religion as a fact-of-life, as heard in the temperance of "Drink to Me" and belief of "The Man on the Hill." Cash draws this set of songs more from the land more than the Lord, echoing his early life of family sharecropping ("Five Feet High and Rising" "The Man on the Hill"), along with adventures in the old West ("Clementine" "Hank and Joe and Me"), and songs of mortal end ("The Caretaker" "Don¿t Step on Mother¿s Roses" "My Grandfather¿s Clock"). Cash penned nine of the original twelve tunes, not including the "J. Cash" credited "I Want to Go Home," which is actually the traditional "Sloop John B.". Eleven of the original tracks were recorded in a single day, along with a pair of singles, "I Got Stripes" and "You Dreamer You," both included as bonus tracks on this reissue. The original album cover art and liner notes are augmented with an informative new essay from Billy Altman, and though the entire disc clocks in at a shade under 30-minutes, the richness of the material (much like the richness of the soil) makes this a must-have for Cash fans.

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